By Shane D. Williams
In the early days of this PUP administration, ministers and other senior appointed officials have been determined to exercise their unquestionable authority by putting public officers in their place whenever a decision is questioned. There have been numerous “benchings” in which a senior officer is completely ignored and their responsibilities and authority delegated to less senior personnel or even a newly appointed crony. There have been numerous effective demotions in which a senior public officer maintains their salary but is assigned a new job description and title and answers to the title they previously held. There have also been many many sudden transfers in which public officers are transferred by ministers and political appointees to different buildings, departments, ministries and even districts.
No minister has been as aggressive as Michel Chebat in shaping their ministry to look and feel as close and comfortable to home as possible. The most recent attack is against the Financial Officer of the Ministry of Health and Wellness. According to reports from the Public Service Union, the Financial Officer, a professional with over 25 years of experience in the public service, flagged a claim by the minister for repair to his damaged vehicle. According to PSU President Dean Flowers, ministers are given a monthly vehicle allowance of $1,350 which they should use for such repairs. The claim by Chebat exceeded this monthly allotment; therefore, the responsible Financial Officer was not in a position to approve the claim. This stance by the FO put her in the crosshairs of Michel Chebat. Soon after, she and two accounting officers were issued a letter designating them for transfer to another department.
This is a pattern of behavior by Michel Chebat. He has fired dozens of hard working men and women from hospitals, clinics and health departments across the country while simultaneously hiring his relatives and friends. He has engaged in a prolonged public shaming of Belizean hero, Dr. Manzanero. He issued high paying Ministry of Health contracts to his campaign executives immediately after the general election, claiming that it was necessary for his “transition” into government. His ministry ignored a legal tendering process for the purchase of new vehicles in order to grant the $350,000 plus contract to a barbecue shop owned by his cousin.
This is Michel Chebat’s record in just four months of a five year term.
By Shane D. Williams