Joint Unions of Belize Call for Removal of FinSec Joseph Waight

First, the unions said both the U.D.P. and the P.U.P. had not done their jobs properly when in opposition.  Now, they have called out the financial secretary for his own contribution to the fiscal disaster now confronting Belize.  Joseph Waight has been the FinSec for three consecutive administrations.  Despite this, the unions want him out.  And not only Waight, but all of his staff over public service retirement age. News Five was there when leaders of the Belize National Teachers Union, the Public Service Union, the Association of Public Service Senior Managers and the National Trade Union Congress of Belize revealed that Waight failed to prepare public financial reports twice a year for almost a decade.  P.S.U. first vice president, Dean Flowers says this responsibility was mandated in 2010.

Dean Flowers, 1 st Vice President, P.S.U.

“Problems cannot be solved with the same mindset that created them. So for decades, we believed that the same prescription has been used over and over to solve a recurring problem of mismanagement and no accountability. And so we are saying changes must come and for that reason the joint unions received a very strong mandate that we ought to call for the removal of the financial secretary and his accompanying staff, especially those that are over the age of fifty-five. Why the financial secretary?  In 2010, we knew we had a problem. We knew we had a problem under the Musa Administration that ended in 2008. The I.D.B. came in to assist us and that’s why they passed S.I. 95 of 2010; the Fiscal Transparency and Responsibility Regulations of 2010. The objective of that regulation was to force the financial secretary to give us a snapshot of government fiscal strategy and government fiscal position twice a year. So we were to have been receiving a fiscal outlook, mid-year review report and a final budget outlook report. Detailed in that report would have been government expenses, government revenues, government assets, government liabilities and also the assets, liabilities, revenues and expenses of every single statutory body out there that government is giving monies to and we don’t know how they are performing. We have no clue how most of these revenue generating statutory bodies are performing. We don’t see the publication of any financial statements, similar to us not seeing any where the government finances are confirmed. So it is our view that the financial secretary has breached, not breached, but he is in violation of the S.I., of the law, similar to the former prime minister and he needs to be held accountable. If in 2011, had the financial secretary come and give a snapshot of the financial position of this country as he should have, we could have been monitoring this financial mess real time, real numbers because the regulation also calls for him to publish it in the gazette and to publish it on a government website. The regulations also require of him to give detailed explanation to whether or not there was a deviation from the budget, how much that deviation was, explain how it will help or hurt the country. So that from 2011, twice a year, we would have been cautioned and shown the numbers.”

According to Flowers, S.I. ninety-five of 2010 also demands that the FinSec gives a report of the total number of permanent and temporary employees in the public service system.

The Unions Also Call for the Removal of Auditor General, Central Bank Governor

The unions also referenced the Ministry of Natural Resources which has been famously described as a “hotbed of corruption.”  They called for the replacement of Central Bank Governor Joy Grant, whose critical role, they say, is to ensure that the country does not lead down a path of debt unsustainability and mismanagement.  Also, they are asking for the replacement of Auditor General, Dorothy Bradley, who has “failed to address and audit those high risk ministries in government in government in which corruption has thrived and continue to thrive.”

Dean Flowers, 1st Vice President, P.S.U.

“When last have you seen an audit report coming out of the lands department which from 2008 when the Barrow administration took over, we’ve been hearing has been the hottest bed of corruption? Why hasn’t the auditor general gone to the lands department since 2008 when the fire sale of properties was discovered under the previous administration to identify the leakages and to continue monitor that department? We know that there have been every year, somebody ina di Treasury Department get ketch di pay dead people pension. Why hasn’t that loophole been plugged? We talk about ghost workers on the payroll. Who is auditing the government’s staff list? Who is auditing the government’s payroll? You have dead people, not only on government pension, but dead people di collect salaries every fifteenth and ending. That’s the role of the auditor general; that dah wi last backstop. And you’ll always hear the excuses. Well we noh have this and that. Well that’s neither here or there; you are being paid to do a job. We believe that better competence is out there where the Central Bank governor is concerned. And so we are asking, look; make we get competent people in place. This cronyism that resulted in that appointment because we respect the governor, but we don’t believe she has the kind of experience and competence to make fiscal and monetary policies for the country. So we are saying let’s make the tough decisions as well and put in place the right people that could lead us forward.”

The unions are also asking for an assessment of the Accountant General’s office in managing and producing timely and accurate financial statements. In its proposal to the government, the unions question the competence of the Accountant General and her support staff saying, the department has “failed to do property and timely reconciliation of government accounts showing government’s financial position.”

Channel 5