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$34 Million Salary Increase for Public Officers - $20 Million for More Teacher Training Print E-mail
( 4 Votes )
Written by Shane D. Williams   
Thursday, 13 March 2014 00:00

teachers rally.jpg - 121.83 Kb“Despite our disagreements with some of the Union Leaders, we tremendously value both our Public Officers and Teachers. We believe in them, we treasure them and we consider it our special obligation to properly reward them.”- Prime Minister Barrow.

Hon. Prime Minister of Belize, Dean O. Barrow, introduced the General Revenue Appropriation Bill (2014) at the House of Representatives on Friday, March 7th. The budget for the upcoming fiscal year features significant investment in national infrastructure, expansion of social programs and even more spending on education and healthcare. The highlight of Prime Minister Barrow’s presentation however was the allocation of an additional $22 million to the Capital II Budget of the Ministry of Finance plus more than $11 million for the wage increase of teachers and public officers and 2.5 percent annual increment.

According to Prime Minister Barrow, the financial figures show that there will be an increase of about $44 million in actual recurrent revenue for the financial year 2013/2014, as compared to 2012/2013. This was due in large part to “unbudgeted inflows of $22 million from licenses and fees from the IBC and Shipping Registries, and from $7.0 million in unfrozen dividends from Belize Telemedia Limited (BTL)”. Government and the unions agreed that fifty percent of any increase would go towards a salary raise for public officers, teachers and senior managers. Therefore, $22 million will go towards a raise that teachers and public servants will see in July, retroactive to April 1st. Teachers and public officers will also receive an additional $11 million for their annual cost of living adjustment, also known as “merit based increment”. All together, the teachers and public servants will see a salary adjustment of more than 7.5 percent.

Teachers of Belize will also benefit from a $20 million Teacher Training Programme as the Government of Belize continues to invest in education. In education also, Government will spend more on second chance educational opportunities across the country. This includes more apprenticeship training and other forms of non-traditional education. In addition to the UDP Administration’s first and second form school subsidies and free tuition to Belizean students, Government will now, on a needs basis, absorb all fees annually for students sitting CXC exams up to six subjects. The Ministry of Education also plans to waive high school fees for students who fall in certain poverty categories.

Public infrastructure investment will be at a record high in the financial year 2014/2015. Prime Minister Barrow said, “Never before has so much spending been programmed on construction, road and bridge building, drainage, street rehabilitation, community centers, sporting facilities.” Projects to be executed by the Belize Infrastructure Limited will be in full flow over the next few months. Funds will also be made available for additional infrastructural projects for every municipality. In Prime Minister Barrow’s words, “Cities, Towns, and Villages; every nook, every cranny, every corner of this country will benefit from our Herculean public works drive.” New projects include the improvement of drainage and cementing of primary streets in Corozal Town, Orange Walk Town, Belize City, Belmopan City, Santa Elena, Benque Viejo, Dangriga and Punta Gorda Towns. Every Municipality will receive a new signature sporting complex.

Government will also spend more on healthcare and citizen and national security. The Ministry of Health is rolling out the National Health Insurance services to the North of the country, starting with Corozal Bay. Government continues to roll out the program responsible by doing so within its budget and not by breaking Social Security. There will be more recruit intakes for the Belize Defense Force, National Coast Guard and Police Department as well additional equipment for all armed forces. 

The regionally acclaimed food pantry and conditional cash transfer (BOOST) programs will be extended to more Belizeans in need of a hand up. These programs act as social safety nets for Belizeans and according to Prime Minister Barrow will “remain a hallmark of our Administration and the logo Social Justice will forever be emblazoned on our UDP banner”.

Belizeans will remember the year 2014 as the year of the workers - millions of dollars in salary increases and thousands of new jobs. All this will be done with NO NEW TAXES. Therefore, Prime Minister’s budget presentation was rightly themed Bettering People, Building Belize- A Budget for All because according to the social forecast, “True sunshine is breaking out all over Belize and we in the UDP are messengers of the day”.

The Leader of the Opposition will make an attempt to cast a cloud over the Prime Minister’s budget on Monday, March 24th, a difficult task that will be. Truer words have never been said: “In this refulgent dawn those that can't see the many good things around us must be blinded by the light.”- Exert from Prime Minister Barrow’s 2014 Budget Speech.

Last Updated on Thursday, 13 March 2014 14:30