Belize: Senator Sheena Pitts questioned the narrative that “they say the administration is broke, but the regime is still spending.”
Senator Sheena Pitts’s further statement:
“The very premise on which they were voted in, being a people-centred approach, is the very thing that we have seen in the first 5 months to be completely untrue. The budget isn’t people-friendly.
My colleague and good friend, Orson Elrington, it is his position, and I agree with him, that at times you need to be able to recognize a narrative, be able to control the narrative or be able to respond to a narrative in a way that, when that narrative is perverse, you address it promptly. And, the narrative I speak to right now (because, right now, I want to question the narrative, I want us to challenge the narrative, and I want us to reject the narrative). And that narrative is, one, Government is broke.
You know why I say, I want us to question that narrative? Suppose Government is truly broke, and we are here in a position forcing the unions that public officers must take a 10 percent cut (in salary) and a 3-year increment freeze. How is it that we are here learning about spending on vehicles, about renting office spaces when there is no need to, and I can go on and on? But, I won’t, because the people who are listening to us here are aware of the many expenses being undertaken by the government when they say they are broke.
Question the narrative. They’re broke, and they’re still spending? And spending on things they have no business spending on? They’re spending on things that have nothing to do with the people? No sir. Challenge the narrative.
That is what the union is doing. Come to us and show us that you have exhausted every option at addressing the crisis, and then, and only then, we will be in a position to say, alright now, it is our turn, who are at the bottom of the earning and equity ladder, to yield up 10 percent (in salary) and 3-year increment freeze.”
“Now, we heard talks of hope, about gloom and doom, and this and that. But, I am saying, any leader of any sports team, any government, or anything, must be in a position to motivate, inspire, and provoke cooperation.
And so, we expect the same public officers, who are to take salary cuts, to be the same public officers who turn up to work every day, to be the ones to carry out your work to collect outstanding taxes, to do this and do that. How can we take away from them in one breath and expect them to do our work? We are demoralizing them. All of those who got hired (when others were being fired) at more favourable remuneration packages; some public servants could have been elevated to those positions.
And so, I close by saying, Madam President, that the budget does not represent what Good Governance is and what the government (purportedly) set out to do in action. We don’t have anything that will help people eat and survive. We expected that there would be counter-cyclical government expenditure to boost the economy. It is the public officers who spend. That is where we get our money from.
And so, Madam President, I close by saying this: Let us respect the unions and identify and appreciate that what they are doing is what we all should do – hold the government accountable to their Good Governance motion, and have them translate into reality by their actions those things that they said in that Good Governance motion.”