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Cabinet discusses union proposals, vaccination, Development Finance Corporation and procurement

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Posted: Wednesday, March 17, 2021. 7:16 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Prime Minister John Briceno’s Cabinet met in Belize City on Tuesday.

In its weekly formal report, it announced that it has “received the Joint Unions’ response to Government’s proposals to address the dire state of public finances and approved the progression of discussion with the unions in good faith.”

The unions have buckled down in opposition to a salary cut and proposed numerous reforms in reply, though said they would be agreeable to an increment freeze if other conditions were put in place.

More than 10 thousand Belizeans have been vaccinated in the first phase of the National COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout Plan, at a rate of 600 persons per day. In welcoming the news, Cabinet says this is in line with Government’s plan to vaccinate over 200,000 Belizeans in 120 days, roughly half the population. First in line were healthcare workers and elderly persons, and Belize awaits its allotment of 100 thousand doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to begin reaching the remainder of the population. 

The Development Finance Corporation (DFC) is in line for “corrective measures” to allow it to access and provide credit to the productive sector, reversing its “deteriorating position.” The country’s main national development bank had been in line for a negotiated credit line with the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) last year as part of the then-administration’s plans to revive the economy.

And, Cabinet has endorsed the development of a centralized procurement unit within the Ministry of Finance with a view to generate savings of up to BZ$25 million annually. Each Ministry has heretofore typically procured its own goods and services, resulting in instances of graft and corruption.

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