The economic picture for Belize remains grim and dismal, due to the new coronavirus crisis.  Government’s revenue is falling by almost half a billion dollars as a result of the recent economic meltdown caused by the state of emergency imposed at the beginning of April.  While several offices, including the Ministry of Natural Resources and General Sales Tax, have resumed operations, revenue has dropped to a trickle while government’s wage bill sits at five hundred and forty million dollars.  Will there be enough monies going forward to avoid reducing the salaries of public officers and teachers?  According to PM Barrow, all efforts will be made to secure additional funds from the Central Bank of Belize to avoid having to cut the monthly income of those in the public sector.

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“We expect that there’s going to be bigger than a four hundred million dollar shortfall in recurrent revenue.  That’s, as I said, almost half of the projections and with GST having been shuttered and the Ministry of Natural Resources having been shuttered, we did take the occasion of the amendment of Statutory Instrument Fifty-five to take, because of the fact that the enhanced measures came to an end on their own expiration date on Saturday, those had to be taken out of SI 55 and we did ensure that we put natural resources on the list of government departments that can open now from nine to four.”

Reporter

“Sir, with the revenue shortfall we know that the wage bill is five hundred and forty million dollars and with the shortfall that you’re predicting, of four hundred million, you cannot make your payroll.  How will the government continue to pay public officers, a payroll for public officers and teachers, and is a pay cut of some percentage in the foreseeable future?”

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“Well, let me say that I will do my darndest to refrain from any pay cut for public officers.  How to do it?  We will simply have to borrow more from the Central Bank.  As I recollect, there is a degree of headroom there and if we borrow all that we can borrow we should be able to see the public servants through until there is a total reopening of the economy which would then put us in a position to start to see the revenue inflows that would allow us to continue on from the point we reached when, in other words, we should start to see some revenue enhancement before we reach the point where all the monies that I proposed to borrow from the Central Bank would have run out.  So in this way I hope to keep public officers entirely without any kind of pay cut.”

Channel 5