By BBN Staff: The National Institute of Culture and History (NICH) confirmed today that it had to lay off 9 staff members (0r 6% of its staff) with all departments feeling the brunt of this decision. The laying off of staff is the final and only available means of cost-cutting that could have been implemented by NICH due to the economic fallout caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
NICH said that it began implementing cost-cutting measures as early as March 2020, cutting non-essential expenses. For April and May non-staff expenses such as “Programmatic and Strategic Expenditures” were reduced by approximately 95 percent of previous years.
However, as the economic situation worsened NICH could not continue to operate with its full staff and said that its Board of Management was “forced” to lay off some of its staff.
According to a release from NICH, “The Board of Directors and Management have agreed on a phased approach moving forward. The decisions we have taken thus far have been and continue to be challenging. We aim to ensure the continued protection and promotion of all forms of tangible and intangible culture while retaining most of our staff to the ability that we can”.
NICH said that the changes brought on by COVID-19 has affected all of Belize made the situation necessary but says that most of its team understood and supported the decisions made by the board.
NICH’s budget is financed through a monthly subvention from the Government of Belize and is supplemented by entrance and visitation fees charged at Belize’s archaeological and other reserves. Collections from visitors to the reserves and sites managed by NICH are dismal due to the pandemic’s effect on tourism. In addition, the Government of Belize is also implementing its own cost cutting measures and the monthly allocation/subversion to NICH is also under fiscal pressure.