Belize Waste Control has not been paid for more than three months – that’s over half a million dollars in arrears. Of course, this is nothing unprecedented. If fact, it is pretty commonplace. But employees of BWC told us today that the company has already laid off eight persons, with others to follow if payment is not made. There are rumblings of a strike and protest – again, nothing we haven’t seen time and time again. It’s a bread and butter issue for employees of the sanitation company who depend on that weekly salary. But it’s also a bread and butter issue with the Council – in this case – no bread or butter and the shop is closed. Mayor Darrell Bradley told News Five that at least for the next few weeks, there is absolutely nothing that the Council can do to correct the situation.
Darrell Bradley, Belize City Mayor
“They’ve not indicated to me that they’re going on strike. And the position is that we again are sympathetic with the considerations that they have raised. They are out of pocket substantially for the city. That’s not something that we are proud of, but at this present moment it’s not something that we can fix. I don’t have any vault with any big loads of money that we can just pay them. I know that we can see and we are seeing inflows in relation to November there are early payments with property taxes and as we get the early payments going into November and December they are one of the first contractors that we settle because of the arrears that have been amounting. So what we would do is that we would start paying them substantially from the middle of November going into December, January, February and by March we catch up. The financial position of the City Council has improved. Again we are looking at our audit and we have substantially closed the gap with several major receivables that are owed to the city. For example we have a big property tax bill that’s owed in the amount of ten million dollars that people owe in terms of arrears. We’ve closed that by half so that that bill is now at five million dollars so we are collecting on arrears. The policies that we’ve put in place including the holding back of drivers’ licenses…those things are working so we are seeing increased cash flow. One of the things that has hurt us is that we’re not getting our subvention and we’re not getting our head tax because that is capitalizing the sinking fund at the Central Bank. So those things are causing us to be in a position where the finances are very tight…”