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Prime Minister on potential budget cuts: “Sacrifices have to be made”

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Posted: Saturday, February 6, 2021. 11:02 am CST.

By Aaron Humes: Following Friday’s meeting of the House of Representatives, Prime Minister John Briceño reiterated to reporters that the Government has not proposed a salary cut for public officers, teachers and others.

However, he added, cost savings alone will not close the budget deficit: “The cost saving measures that [the social partners] have already recommended to the Financial Secretary, the Financial Secretary has pointed out to us that is only going to save about 1%. It’s nowhere close to where we need to be…1% of GDP. The deficit for this year will be close to 13% of GDP.” He then affirmed a reporter’s question about the belt tightening to come for public servants: “That is why I’m saying that we are hoping that the Public Service Union (PSU) and the BNTU [Belize National Teacher’s Union] would also be responsible enough to know that sacrifices have to be made.”

“…our idea with the consultations is that we want to go to social partners and to the unions who are our partners in government and say well this is what we have. How can we best close this gap as best as [we] possibly can,” added Briceño. “…we are going with a blank sheet and let’s sit down and see how best. We want to hear from them and I hope that they are also going to be mature enough to see what is the problem. They see the numbers on a daily basis. They see how much monies we are collecting, they know the shortfalls, they know the deficits and that they would act as true partners with us and then come up with something that is amenable and that could address the issue now. We can’t wait one or two years – we are looking at taxes for instance. We can’t raise taxes in a time when businesses are struggling to survive.”

The Budget is due to be presented in a month’s time in early March, shortly after the municipal elections.

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