By Khaila Gentle
BELIZE CITY, Thurs. June 23, 2022
At the end of this month, public officers can expect to see the 10% of their salaries that was cut by GoB last year as a cost-saving measure, reinstated in their upcoming paychecks, according to a letter released by the Ministry of Finance this week. That letter reveals that Cabinet has approved the reinstatement of the 10% salary reduction that those public workers have been struggling to endure since June last year.
Minister of Public Service, Hon. Henry Charles Usher spoke with the media about the announcement and confirmed that the reinstatement will take effect on July 1. The adjustment, says Minister Usher, comes two years earlier than had been expected—since the salary reduction had been projected to last for three years. The early restoration of public officers’ full salaries thus came as a relief and a pleasant surprise to him, he said.
“At the time, we said that it would be for a maximum of three years. So, this year when we were doing our budget preparation, I was happy that the Minister of Finance, the Prime Minister, made the announcement to us in Cabinet that he believes that this year we would be able to give back that salary adjustment two years earlier,” he said.
The Ministry of Finance circular, dated June 21, 2022, states that all officers on a fixed salary who were employed before June 2021—when the 10% cut was introduced by the Government as a cost- saving measure—and who were affected by the reduction are entitled to full reinstatement. This includes those officers whose employment has been extended or renewed without renegotiated rates.
Also entitled to reinstatement are contract officers whose salaries were reduced as well as permanent established officers, open vote workers, police officers, Coast Guard officers, and Belize Defence Force soldiers.
Minister Henry Charles Usher also addressed the fact that with the return to original salaries comes the return to regular work hours, since the work week of public officers had also been reduced in conjunction with the implementation of the salary cut.
“Of course, with the salary adjustment returning, we’re also returning to regular working hours. So the working hours will be returned to normal, and the work week—I believe there were some departments who cut down on the work week, that work week will also return to normal,” he stated.
Earlier in the year, on March 2, a leaked letter from the Office of the Prime Minister had suggested that the restoration of the 10% of public workers’ salaries that had been cut would take place in July.
“As of July 1, 2022, the 10% reduction in wages and salaries will be no more. It will be restored not in stages, not in increments, but in full as of that date,” it had stated.
That letter went on to address the reinstatement of full work hours, stating “On restoration of wages and salaries on July 1, 2022, the work week for public officers and teachers will also revert to the normal work week of 39.5 hours per week.”