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House of Representatives to approve the return of public sector increments

Posted: Friday, April 21, 2023. 1:00 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: The legislation that in 2021 reduced public sector salaries, reduced allowances, and froze increments for three years will face amendment to allow for the return of the last.

At today’s meeting of the House of Representatives, the Public Sector Emoluments and Allowances Reduction (Amendment) Bill seeks to officially end the increment freeze imposed on public officers and teachers.

It was agreed between the Government and the Joint Unions (Belize National Teachers’ Union, Public Service Union, and Association of Public Service Senior Managers) that those increments would be unfrozen on April first, but the House of Representatives must also go through its process to ensure the change is reflected in law.

Joseph Waight, the Financial Secretary, indicated in an interview on Thursday that “An average increment is about three percent. So it’s about three percent of the wage bill, and we’re looking at about twenty million or so to resume the increments.” He confirmed that the amount has been budgeted for.

On the related matter of pensions, which the Government and trade unions propose to take in two phases where new public officers and those serving for a certain period can expect to begin contributing to their pensions versus older public officers, Waight reiterated that the plan is sustainable compared to the current model: “You know, we have done a number of studies and the conclusions are the same, that the current scheme is unsustainable going out in the future. The liability, the pension liability for the government going, if you going forward, is about seventy to seventy-five percent of GDP. Clearly, we can’t continue the problem. The problem is how do we make it sustainable? What do we do? What parameters do we change? We have to bring our labor along because it is a contract we have with, you know, so it has to be a negotiation to, to see, well, what can we do to make, put it in a sustainable footing, but at the same time, respecting the right and obligations that the government has to all workers and to our staff, at all levels.”

 

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