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“Urgency of time,”says ABRPO president

Headline“Urgency of time,”says ABRPO president

Aging beneficiaries demand release of PSW trust fund; to meet with PM after Easter

by Kristen Ku

BELMOPAN, Thurs. Mar. 21, 2024

As the heads of the Belizean government convened inside the National Assembly on March 20, on the first day of the 3-day annual budget debate, protesters from the Association of Beneficiaries and Retired Public Officers (ABRPO) gathered outside on the steps of Independence Plaza to register their frustration with the Prime Minister, Hon. John Briceño for failed promises that were made back in December 2022 to dissolve the nine-million-dollar Public Service Workers Trust (PSWT) Fund so that beneficiaries can receive monies owed to them since 1997.

Despite PM Briceño agreeing to meet with them and resolve the issue, nothing had been done. Consequently, on Wednesday, approximately 175 of the ABRPO’s members were back, bringing with them posters and banners, and calling on the Prime Minister to come out to address them.

“Last year, the prime minister did come down from the National Assembly when there was a similar meeting, and indicated that the government would assist in supporting this effort by indicating to an Appeals Court that the government is supportive of the effort made by this association; but he also did commit as well to ensuring that the projects, or that the PSWT does not carry out anymore projects, and that he was going to get his attorneys to ensure that the PSWT in effect cease its operations to a certain extent. And so, one year hence, nothing has happened,” Hubert Enriquez, President of ABRPO stated.

“We’ve had two meetings with people in authority, but we’re still at the same position; and it is even more dire because time is of the essence. We have no time; lots of beneficiaries are passing away in numbers, and so, really, it’s an urgency of time,” he further explained.

The Prime Minister eventually descended the Assembly’s stairs and, similar to last year, was able to persuade protesters to agree to a meeting after the Easter holidays. But unlike the last agreement, where he assigned members of his government to meet with the association, this time he committed himself to taking full control of all meetings.

In a press release issued today by the ABRPO, they expressed confidence in finding a resolution to their long overdue compensations. “There is great anticipation within the ranks of the ABRPO that the Trust Fund will be terminated in the near future,” it read.

The ABRPO is currently preparing to submit its draft proposals aimed at dissolving the Trust Fund, listing all eligible beneficiaries, and suspending the ongoing projects facilitated by the Trust.

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