Mayors Meet With Musa
They vented their frustration on Monday and tomorrow the employees of Belize Maintenance Limited who have been laid off will take their protest to the streets. And while BML workers ready for a demonstration tomorrow, today the Mayor's Association along with Opposition Leader Dean Barrow had a meeting with the Prime Minister to find a resolution to the financial crisis that all UDP controlled town boards and city councils find themselves in. At the end of the meeting late this evening I was there to speak with the Prime Minister who told me that CITCO will get a bail out from government and hopefully the Belize Tourism Board.
Rt. Hon. Said Musa, Prime Minister
"...Which is the same as what was paid to the previous Belize City Council. In other words it is a $1.4 million per annum, the subvention. I an addition they have received for the last two months, the amounts that had been deducted which is $60,000 so that is being paid in and on top of that we have it on good grounds. After discussion with the Belize Tourism Board, they will be receiving a portion of the head tax, a sharing of the head tax amounting to at least a $1.60 per head which will be used for tourist related projects. It will amount to an additional $1.1 million over the next twelve months that they'll be getting on a monthly basis."
Can the workers of SEL be rest assured that they will be getting their monies?
Rt. Hon. Said Musa,
"That is my understanding, that there should be some progress now in that. I think SEL has been working and it is only the BML workers who were not paid for last week, as I understand it. Hopefully now, all the workers will get their money."
Zenaida Moya, Mayor of Belize City
"No I am not satisfied. I feel that as it pertains to the Belize City Council, the Nova Scotia loan, we have agreed in our meeting that the council would not have to pay this loan during the life of the council. This is a three hundred and something thousand dollars. As it pertains to the head tax, that the government, the Ministry of Finance, will support in terms of the BTB reverting to the amount that was paid to the Belize City Council, which was a US$1. As it pertains to the Port of Belize that we go ahead and we sit down with Mr. Espat to see what we can get from the Port of Belize. That is as it pertains to Belize City."
The Prime Minister has conceded that in fact BTB will be paying the council to the tune of one point something million dollars. Are you satisfied at least that you are getting some of that money that you all have been asking for?
"Well clearly of course that amount of money, it all depends on how much cruise ship passengers arrive in the country. So if at any time, let's say you have any catastrophe, any natural disaster and the ships don't come into Belize City, that revenue stream will be cut off, at least for that period of time. But it is something and clearly I will say that at least it is something. We would prefer of course a US$2 because we feel that that is more adequate. It doesn't really, we have to pay for everything and I keep hammering it out, of what all the government, the Belize City Council has to pay for as it pertains to cruise ship passengers and the cost that it entails in terms of even offering Belize City as a destination."
It was expected that today you would have received sixty plus thousand dollars to be put into your account as a result of government changing that whole Scotia Bank loan. Have you gotten that money and how will that be used?
"Well we are supposed to receive that money. What I can say is that what they have agreed upon for the rest of the money is that the Belize City Council will not have to pay anything further on that loan, at least for the life of its office which we have two and a half more years in office."
But what will be done with that money? BML workers will be demonstrating tomorrow.
"Okay well clearly we will pay something towards BML and SEL. We definitely will pay something towards these sanitation companies, clearly."
And while Moya says that city hall's finances may be a bit better off, the situation is different for the other councils which had most of their requests denied.
"As it pertains to the other municipalities though, in terms of the environmental tax which a portion was asked for, nothing has come of that. As it pertains to the traffic management, what they have indicated, what the Prime Minister had indicated, for the different municipalities, clearly Belize City, we do handle our traffic other than the busses. So that doesn't affect us but for the other municipalities that a study be done in terms of what they can receive from that. As it pertains to the duty free fuel allowance that the councils asked for, again that was denied. As it pertains to the entertainment tax, what was agreed upon was that the different councils submit something requesting something or they can go ahead and level some sort of fee as it pertains to the entertainment tax.
What we have a huge problem with is the fact as it pertains to the municipalities, the other municipalities, other than okay we will try and see if the other municipalities can deal with traffic management, nothing and even for Belize City, nothing as it pertains to environmental tax, nothing as it pertains to an increase in subvention."