Belize parliament approves law reinstating 10% pay cuts for public servants

Belize’s parliament on Friday approved legislation reinstating the 10% pay cut for civil servants that John Briceño’s government instituted in 2021.

Prime Minister Briceño told lawmakers that his government’s economic performance over the past fiscal year has improved significantly and that the reinstatement of ten percent comes two years ahead of the originally established period.

“I rise to introduce Bill Number Fourteen 2021 on the Reduction of Public Sector Emoluments and Allowances to reinstate the ten per cent salary withheld due to a salary reduction imposed on certain appointees to public functions,” Briceño told parliament.

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“Mr. Speaker, this bill has the recommendation of Cabinet. I will be very brief on this. It is a very simple bill. Last year when we met with officials, we said that wages and allowances had to be reduced and the projection was that we would do this for three years.

“But, because of the performance of the economy, because of the hard work that the People’s United Party has done over the past year, we are now refunding that ten percent and allowances to our civil servants two years to advance, two years since advance,” he added.

Last month, the Ministry of Finance issued a statement stating that “personal emoluments will be restored to 100%, effective July 1 this year and accordingly, effective July 15, civil servants must resume their hours normal working hours as outlined in Regulation 32 of the Belize Constitution (Civil Service) Regulations 2014.

The circular from the Ministry of Finance dated June 21, 2022 states that all staff on fixed salaries who were employed before June 2021 – the date on which the ten per cent reduction was introduced by the government as a cost-saving measure – and who have affected by the reduction are entitled to full reinstatement. This includes agents whose employment has been extended or renewed without renegotiated rates.

Also eligible for reinstatement are contract officers whose salaries have been reduced as well as permanent officers, open-vote workers, police officers, coastguard officers and soldiers of the Belize Defense Force.

Unions did not respond to the government’s latest move to legislate the reinstatement of the pay cut, but Education Minister and member of the government’s negotiating team, Francis Fonseca, said at the time that a meeting with the joint trade unions had been cordial. and fruitful.

Belize National Teacher’s Union President Elena Smith also welcomed the government’s initial announcement to reinstate the 10% pay cut.

CMC/