Friday, April 14, 2017, 17:32
By: Major (Ret’d) Lloyd Jones
The announcement by Patrick Faber, the Minister of Education and Dean Barrow’s heir presumptive that GOB will award an honorarium of $1 million to those teachers who did not go on the anti-corruption strike sent shock waves throughout Belize. Quite properly, the BNTU has condemned such a naked attempt at union busting and bribery. The BNTU has been joined in the condemnation of such waste by the Chamber of Commerce, the NTUCB and the CWU.
None of the justifiable criticism has phased Patrick Faber and Dean Barrow as they plough ahead with their twisted logic that those teachers who abandoned the BNTU and the Belizean people should be rewarded for what these ridiculous politicians perceive as loyalty to the UDP. Every Belizean should be aware by now what really is the focus of the UDP: not to govern and lead Belize along a sustainable developmental pathway; their focus is on petty politics and electioneering. They have maintained that focus since 2008 and because they have won 3 consecutive elections they believe that the Belizean people are in accord with their self-centered politics. They have failed to realize however that PetroCaribe has evaporated, the productive sector is in decline and the oil fields have dried up. Faber and the UDP can no longer hoodwink the Belizean people who are now beginning to realize that you can’t eat cement streets. When your child falls ill you can’t take him/her to the civic center for treatment. The illusion is over and Barrow, Patrick and the UDP have wrecked our economy and they can pretend no more!
In the current climate Patrick Faber’s honorarium is irresponsible, it is obscene and it is dishonourable. At a time when Belize faces its worst economic challenge ever, and at a time when Dean Barrow has cruelly increased taxes on the poor, Faber has the “Zenaida Beads” (also known as balls) to give away $1 million? It is our understanding that each teacher will receive about $500, our only question to those teachers is this: is this what your integrity is worth? He has cleverly timed the honorarium to coincide with the Easter break, a time when Belizeans go out of their way to spend money they do not have. The irony of course is that it was during this very time that Judas betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. Patrick’s offer to the teachers is $1 million. I guess he factored in inflation!
Everybody understands that the $1 million could have been put to better use. Just last weekend the CEOs held a ride for cancer which reportedly raised $70,000. Just imagine that, the Minister squanders $1 million and right thereafter the CEOs turn to the Belizean people and say please help us raise money for cancer. Where was your concern when Faber committed $1 million of taxpayers’ money to bribing the teachers? The $1 million that Faber intends to squander could have gone to the improvement of cancer treatment facilities in Belize: a far more meaningful endeavour. If the CEOs really cared about cancer they would have written a joint letter to Faber urging him to spend the money on cancer treatment but no, they sat idly by and said nothing. They dare not upturn the apple cart. Such utter and complete hypocrisy.
The useful purposes for which the $1 million could have been used are many. Just a few months ago we saw Edmond “Clear the Cane” Castro boasting about bringing water to the good people of Biscayne. What he did not say is that his UDP government could not find the meagre $1 million dollars that it would cost to bring water to Biscayne. They had to go hat in hand to the Germans. The UDP government behaves like an alcoholic husband who drinks out his pay then sends his wife to beg the area rep for “help.” By Castro’s own admission, there are many villages in Belize Rural North without potable water: Boston, Bomba and Maypen we mentioned. Why not spend the money on getting these people water? What about health? We are hearing very troubling stories about the lack of proper medication at the public hospitals; why not spend the $1 million on that? Oh here is a great idea, what about proper ambulances? Or adequate backup generators for our hospitals? What about the much vaunted CSI Belize facilities? Do we really need to show you how much more good we could have done with the $1 million?
The honorarium coming at the expense of the public purse is ill-conceived. It is an insult to the taxpayer who must fork out more of their hard earned money to pay for a government that has grown out of control. A government that can magically find $1 million to bribe teachers but can’t find money for the things that are really important to the average Belizean: health care, education, housing, crime fighting and other emergency services? This latest move by Faber and the UDP is another indicator of their reckless approach to public finances. The economy is imperilled, cost of living has spiralled out of control but hey let’s have a feast! Does Tacos and pibil come to mind?
We wish that those teachers, already having failed to stand up for Belize and against corruption, find it in the hearts to at least reject these million pieces of silver as a makeup gesture. As a kind of penitence if you will. After all…its holy week.
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