The Prime Minister also gave an update on the salary negotiations for public servants and teachers. Last week Thursday, the PM met with 7 Union Leader from the Belize National Teacher’s Union, the Public Service Union and the Association of Public Service Senior Managers.
The purpose of the meeting was to discuss a projection on revenue collection and a floor for the salary adjustment – that is the minimum that Government can commit to. But the Government will not sign off on a floor.
“We had the meeting. I showed them the figures. Those figures indicate that as of now indicated this afternoon, the salary increase the they are getting is likely off the order of a 4% raise. With respect to the floor, I repeat it, what I have been saying from the start, that simply is not on. I am not quite sure (because they have moved the gold post from time to time) where the last came down in terms of the quantum of this floor that they were requiring but as best I can determine, they were saying 5%. It was always my position, I am giving you fully 50% of any salary increase in recurrent revenue that the government collects. If that turns out to be as 5%, Hallelujah! If it is less, that’s what it is. I will not lock myself into any guarantee of a minimum. That would be fool-hard; in fact that would be foolish and irresponsible on my part”.
Nevertheless, the PM is resolute that with the resources of the Government, the proposed increase is a generous one.
Hon. Dean Barrow: “We have to pay for the increase and we pay salaries out of recurrent revenue. So, the formula that I give them at the start is a formula that’s extremely generous to them. Remember what this means: while there have been these increases in collections which will now allow then to get, it seems either for or close to 4% increase, recurrent spending has been exceeding recurrent revenue. But that is not their worry; they don’t have to concern themselves with that at all. It means that while in the normal course, all the recurrent revenue increase would go to fund the increase in recurrent spending, which hopefully would all be for good things that would help to increase the quality for the Belizean people. That can’t happen now. Half of your recurrent increase is reserved and will go on the salaries for the teachers and public officers” .
And while he states the salary adjustment is deserved, he reminds the Unions that Government must act responsibly, as it has other obligations that it must meet.
Hon. Dean Barrow: “You see, this is a group that faiths itself extremely entitled, and while there is no doubt in your mind that they are deserving of a raise and that they are a very important constituent element of our society, they do not make up the whole society, and when I take half of the recurrent revenue which, in the normal course, should be spent on all the society, and spend that on them, that is a huge plus for them. Some people might argue more than I should have been prepared to concede. I was therefore, absolutely clear and completely adamant that that that’s what it is, what I said from the start and I remind you, the leaders of the Union accepted when I first proposed it. It was only when they went to their members and took a hiding that they came back and changed course. I say that only to make the point that the leaders obviously thought that it was extremely reasonable”.