Highlights — 13 February 2019 — by Rowland A. Parks
PSU objects to contract officer Paulette Elrington’s study leave

Ambassador Lois Young says she knows nothing about the Foreign Service Officer’s request

BELIZE CITY, Fri. Feb. 8, 2019– In mid-January, Amandala published a story captioned: “Paulette Elrington is not an ‘ordinary’ contract officer.” The story was based on a leaked government memorandum that was sent from the Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to the Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of the Public Service, and was copied to the Financial Secretary, Ministry of Finance, seeking advice on a request made by Paulette Elrington, a daughter of Minister of Foreign Affairs, Wilfred Elrington, who has been employed as a Foreign Service Officer at the Permanent Mission of Belize to the United Nations since 2008, when the UDP was returned to power.

Paulette Elrington, according to the leaked government memorandum, applied for study leave with her full salary and entire benefit package, which includes housing allowance, furniture allowance, and education allowance for her school-aged child, among the other perks that are built into her contract.

The letter also suggested that the Belize United Nations Mission would have to get a replacement staff member at the same salary level as Elrington, thus putting the Government of Belize on the hook for almost $400,000 extra for a Foreign Service Officer.

Since the story made it into the mainstream media, Elrington, who is now in Jamaica, has resigned from her contract officer job in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The Public Service Union issued a release dated February 6, 2019, condemning the intention that was expressed in the support letter written on Elrington’s behalf by the CEO in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Pat Andrews. The PSU press release also took the Head of Mission in New York to task for supporting Elrington’s request.

In a letter to the Amandala, however, the Head of Mission to New York, Ambassador Lois Young, denied any knowledge of, or support for, Elrington’s study leave request.

“For the record, I have no knowledge or involvement in any way, shape or form with anything written by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on behalf of the contract officer in question,” Ambassador Young said in an e-mail to our Amandala editor.

A spokesperson for the PSU, in response to Ambassador Young’s letter, insisted this evening to Amandala that the Mission in New York was supportive of Elrington’s request, notwithstanding Ambassador Young’s denial in her email to us.

“PSU condemns the blatant and continuous display of nepotism being exhibited by the current administration. PSU wishes to inform the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that permanent posts should be created based on need, and not to facilitate study leave that persons on contract are not qualified for.

“In addition, study leave for more than a year should never be approved at 100% salary commitment at the expense and detriment to the people of Belize, and the special allowances being requested for Ms. Elrington are not afforded to officers while on study leave,” the PSU press release said.

The PSU release went on to explain that they could not support any request that aims to convert the status of an officer from contract officer to a permanent establishment staff for the sole purpose of granting him/her study leave with full pay.

 When the story was first published, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Wilfred Elrington, told the media that he had no idea about the matter. He said, however, that his daughter would finish her education.

The PSU ended their press release by calling on the CEO in the Ministry of the Public Service to reject Elrington’s request for study leave in its entirety.

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