BELIZE CITY, Tues. Mar. 16, 2021– During a press conference held by the Joint Union Negotiation Team, the leaders of the four unions on the team (the BNTU, the PSU, the NTUCB and the APSSM) once again called on the government of Belize to put an end to unnecessary and wasteful spending. They emphasized that their proposals in this regard have been submitted to the government on previous occasions but said that they had all fallen unto deaf ears over the years.
In addition to asking Ministers to give up entertainment and telephone allowances, the unions have also asked that vehicles be purchased by public servants, who would receive a capped amount of money, which would vary according to their post, to make such purchases.
The President of the Public Service Union, Gerald Henry, explained, “We decided that the ministers, CEOs, HOD’s and other senior government officials would be allowed to purchase their vehicles or the vehicles they want to drive. For ministers and ministers of state, they would get an advance to purchase their vehicle in the amount of $100,000 maximum. For CEOs, they would get $75,000 maximum to purchase their vehicles, and for HOD’s and senior government officials, they would get $60,000 maximum in order to purchase their vehicle.”
“This way these people would own the vehicles and have full responsibility for their maintenance, licensing, and insurance. Also, they are recommending that the government implement the system in place which requires that the public servant under the rank of Head of Department or senior public officer surrender their government vehicle by 5:15 p.m. each day,” Henry further outlined.
Elena Smith, National President of the Belize National Teachers Union, further commented, “At this point in time, there’s no need for any entertainment allowance. You can’t entertain anybody right now. Gatherings are limited, nobody coming from anywhere right now that we would have to be entertaining them. So we are proposing – and we are serious and adamant about this — that ministers should give up their entertainment allowance and telephone allowance.”
And an important part of cutting down the wage bill is carrying out a comprehensive job classification exercise throughout the public service, according to Sharon Fraser, President of the APSSM (Association of Public Service Senior Managers). She pointed out that this exercise will give them a true picture of who the public servants are and will filter out those people who should not be getting a salary from the Government — so-called phantom workers.
The Joint Unions are recommending that these measures be put in place, along with the cost-saving and revenue enhancement recommendations before following through with the proposed salary cuts and increment freezes. The recommendation by the Joint Unions covers short-, medium-, and long-term advice.