Unions expect no help from International Monetary Fund for wage adjustment



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Posted: Sunday, February 20, 2022. 12:08 p.m. CST.

By Aaron Humes: As part of its annual Article IV consultation with the Government of Belize, representatives of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) this week met with various stakeholders, including the National Trades Union Congress of Belize (NTUCB) and the one of its affiliates, the Public Service Union (power supply).

PSU President Dean Flowers and NTUCB President Luke Martinez discussed their views on the meeting, which found them not to be very helpful on issues that matter to their members.

Flowers said he reminded the IMF that the concern in Belize is not wages but efficiency: “Belize has no problem with respecting its wage bill if it is that our government would spend the income that it effectively collects. And so we remain absolutely convinced that we would rather die defending our pensions than engage in a discussion of public sector pension reform that is not also accompanied by political and tax reform.

President Martinez added that in 90 minutes he did not feel the IMF would be helpful in recouping his 10% pay cut and frozen government raises.

“Communications with the IMF and consultations at the IMF continue to be the same since our path. They consulted with us last year and pretty much the same tactic around the agenda, last year payroll was on the agenda and they know the biggest accommodation was for them to to cut public sector salaries by 10% and to freeze public sector increases and we fought hard and long to prevent this and those who wanted this to happen fought hard and long to make it happen. Seems like if things are looking so good then why not restore the public sector pay and why not restore the raises and so clearly there’s no will on their part to recommend a restoration according to them even though there there is growth, if they would recommend for public sector restoration 10%, then they will go back to what they asked for last year.

Ahead of new meetings with the government, Martinez remains hopeful: “We hope that this will be a point where the government will not agree with the IMF and that it will restore public sector wages to 100%”.

And as for the IMF, he had this suggestion: “…we are continually disappointed with the IMF and its representatives and we do not think that they were ready for a serious discussion and we hope that next year they could commit at least for a week or two.

The IMF’s preliminary Article IV report is usually released in March before the budget is presented, with a final analysis a few months later.

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