BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Feb. 11, 2021– The executive members of the Belize National Teachers Union met with a team from the Government of Belize today to commence budget consultation talks. BNTU president, Elena Smith, in describing what took place during the meeting, said that the union got a chance to share cost-saving and revenue enhancement measures with Deputy Prime Minister Hon. Cordel Hyde; Minister of Education, Hon. Francis Fonseca, and the Minister responsible for the Public Service, Hon. Henry Usher.
“The Minister presented to us the situation with the country — you know, what is the economic situation and what it is that the Government needs to achieve in terms of the deficiency that we have,” Smith recounted.
She said that the group did not have any definitive discussion about any possible pay cuts, but that they did discuss the measures that need to be put in place to ensure that the fiscal gap is bridged. The union will review the proposal from the Government to see the results of the measures put in place thus far and determine what else needs to be done to bridge the economic gap, she further said.
“We know that a lot of our people have not been employed, so you know they are not contributing, but there are measures that they can take internally from the Government and also externally that they can take to be able to do that,” Smith said.
She added, “At the end of the day, we all are feeling the pinch, and we all have to do our part to ensure that the economy can be fixed, it can grow, it can work for all of us, because at the end of the day, we are all going to be benefitting.”
The media also spoke with Deputy Prime Minister Hon. Cordel Hyde, who shared that the consultations and recommendations put forward by the BNTU have been rather helpful. He noted that the consultations helped to fine-tune some recommendations that the Government already had on its agenda.
“We look forward to, at the end of the day, reaching some sort of middle ground, where we dispense our shared responsibility, our shared duty, obligation to the people of this country to come up with a workable, sustainable and very equitable, homegrown plan of recovery, cause we are at a bad place right now,” Hon. Hyde said.
When asked whether or not the union would be open to a wage cut or freeze, the Deputy Prime Minister said, “I think at the end of the day we’ve said that everything is on the table. We are looking quite comprehensively at everything, and that’s the last thing we would want to do, so we are looking at everything else to try to put us in a position where we wouldn’t have to go there, but ultimately if we have to go there, we’ll make that case to them, and they’re prepared to listen to that. That’s my impression.”