GOB presses with 10% salary cut- They propose exempting public officers earning $12,000 or less


The Government of Belize and the Unions remain locked in negotiations on the proposed 3-year 10% salary cut and increment freeze which seeks to cut the Government wage bill by 80 million dollars a year.
While the negotiations are ongoing there is little information that is being shared but the Guardian has secured a document being circulated by the Public Service Union as a survey. In it there is some information being shared as to Government’s proposals. The 15 points are as follows:
“1. Government affirms its commitment to exempt from salary adjustment all public officers earning less than $12,000 per year.
2. Government has restated its position to achieve an estimated savings of $60mn per year from salary cuts by way of a flat across-the-board 10% salary adjustment and $20mn per year from increment freeze.
3. In addition to the 10% salary reduction volunteered by and already implemented in connection with salaries of Ministers and Ministers of State, Government proposes that Ministers, Ministers of State and area representatives will be subject to an increased total salary reduction of 15%. Ministers, Ministers of State and CEOs will also surrender 50% of entertainment and telephone allowances as already agreed in the current fiscal year. It is understood that Heads of Department will continue to surrender their allowances as already agreed in the current fiscal year.
4. To the extent that economic and fiscal performance may turn out favourably and primary balance targets as indicated in our February 26, 2021 letter to you with reference C/GEN/1/01/Vol II (47) are achieved, the Government is prepared to review such salary adjustments on an annual basis. In addition, Government will provide to established GOB/social partner committees (for cost savings and revenue enhancement) updates on the state of public finances every 6 months, starting with the first update by October 31, 2021.
5. The work week for each public officer and teacher will be reduced by 4 hours. Ministries will be given the flexibility to enable such adjusted work week without sacrificing public services. Notwithstanding the foregoing, overtime, when applicable, will continue to apply on the basis of the statutory work week.
6. The Prime Minister has requested of the Central Bank of Belize and the Central Bank of Belize Board has agreed to extend the forbearance period to the end of this year. The forbearance period is on the entire portfolio including but not limited to residential mortgages allowing borrowers further relief.
7. Continued efforts will be made to urge leniency by banks and credit unions on residential mortgages including waiver of penalty fees whether on refinancing, transfer of loans or otherwise. Our team will propose to Cabinet the waiver of stamp duties on the assignment of residential mortgages as well.
8. Government will work with the Central Bank of Belize and financial institutions to establish financial literacy education initiatives for public officers and teachers on budgeting and management of personal finances.
9. The Development Finance Corporation and National Bank of Belize have already indicated their respective willingness to make available special facilities of in or about $3mn to $5mn per institution for public officers and teachers for residential mortgages at preferred rates.
10. In connection with the phased re-opening of schools, Government and specifically the Ministry of Education will work with BTL to establish a discounted data package for teachers.
11. Ministry of Finance will vigorously pursue outstanding taxes payable by tax defaulters. This may include the establishment of a Tax Recovery Unit within the Belize Tax Services, the enhancement of human resource capacity and the establishment of a revenue/tax court, among other measures.
12. Government will prepare draft whistle-blowers’ legislation within three to four months to be shared with the unions for input prior to enactment.
13. Government will prepare draft form of civil and criminal unjust enrichment law to include provisions for lifestyle investigations/audits, unexplained wealth orders that can be applied retrospectively to property acquired even under the past administration, and provisions for asset recovery. Such draft legislation will be shared with the unions and other social partners within six to eight months for input prior to enactment.
14. Government will undertake review of draft collective bargaining agreement within the next three months.
15. Our team will recommend to the Prime Minister NTUCB representation on the board of the National Bank of Belize subject to satisfactory banking experience and applicable “fit and proper” standards as determined by the Central Bank of Belize.”
By all indications there are some concessions by government but by and large, the largest looming issue is the10 percent salary cut which, it seems is non-negotiable.