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INSIGHTS

INSIGHTS
January 25
07:35 2020

BRING BACK THE PRADO!

The Belize Social Security Board (SSB) recently came under heavy fire from the Christian Workers’ Union (CWU) because of an above board transaction involving the outgoing CEO, Dr. Colin Young.

The Belize Social Security Board (SSB) recently came under heavy fire from the Christian Workers’ Union (CWU) because of an above board transaction involving the outgoing CEO, Dr. Colin Young.

According to the Chairman of the SSB, Dr. Young’s contract gave him the right of first refusal on the purchase of his vehicle upon his departure. Mr. Doug Singh informed the media that a professional appraisal was sought and thereafter the Board approved a sales price of $20,000 for the CEO’s Prado.

One of the CWU’s bones of contention appears to be that the sale of the Prado was contrary to the SSB’s disposal policy. The said policy reportedly requires that the disposal of all items with an initial acquisition cost of $10,000 must be by public auction. Such a policy is, among other things, clearly designed to ensure that the SSB extracts the maximum value from the disposal of its assets. But public auctions do not always yield such results; especially the auction of vehicles.

The policies of the SSB are set by the Board and it stands to reason therefore that the Board can adjust those policies as it see fit. Obviously the Board did adjust its disposal policy ipso facto by signing a contract with Dr. Young that gave him the option to purchase his vehicle on his departure. Such a clause in Dr. Young’s contract was neither unlawful nor improper.

Dr. Young has been one of the best CEOs of the SSB and he is certainly among one of the most qualified. There has been no scandal during his tenure and he led the SSB through one of its greatest challenges since its inception: the adjustment of contributions to ensure the survival of the Fund. This was no small feat particularly in our often explosive political environment. In fact Dr. Young reached across the aisle during his consultation process; I personally attended along with a team from the PUP.

Belizeans have a strange attitude toward educated people and they have an almost envious outlook about pecuniary compensation for educated people. We saw a similar outcry over the compensation package of the former City Administrator. The comments coming from people about Candice Miller’s compensation package, reported to be ~$90,000/year plus benefits, proved this theory.

The City Council is one of the largest organizations in Belize; with more than 400 employees, a balance sheet in excess of $85 million and recurrent revenues in the region of $25 million/year. The City Administrator, as the CEO of the Council carries a huge responsibility. If Candice Miller was qualified for her post then her compensation package was more than a fair one (this of course has nothing to do with the distasteful extension of her contract by the lame duck Mayor Bradley).

One of the primary barriers to Belize’s development is a deepening deficiency in our talent pool. We cannot develop our beloved country if we don’t develop the necessary talent. There is not a single country that you can point to that has developed on “common sense” as some Belizeans seem to think. An educated, skilled and industrious people operating within a well governed and corruption free society is the sole basis of national development; nothing else!

In case you missed it, talent acquisition is now regarded as a critical task for all organizations, not just those in the private sector. Many of the economic global powerhouses have been known to poach talent from each other. In fact studies show that when there is an economic downtown, many of the fortune 500 companies scour the job market to find talent at a reasonable cost so that when the market upturns they have all the talent and their competitors don’t!

In Belize, because of a compensation imbalance, a great deal of the talent lies outside the public sector. This of course does not bode well for the public sector which is responsible for providing critical services that the private sector cannot provide. If one understands this context, then one will understand that when we find talent such as Dr. Young in the public space they ought to be cherished. It is not everybody of Dr. Young’s standing that wishes to forgo private sector compensation for duty in the public service. The inefficiencies, institutional inertia and political interference often associated with the public service are enough to dissuade many, not to mention the oft meager compensation packages.

I am sure that the CWU has many things to grumble at the SSB about. I regret to say that the Prado, simply put, cannot be one of them. Bring back the Prado fi wat bredda?!

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