GOB agrees to increase BERT subvention

By Benjamin Flowers

The Belize Emergency Response Team (BERT) is on its way to financial rebound, after the Government of Belize agreed this week to increase its monthly subvention.

BERT and representatives of the government met in Belize City on Monday to negotiate the ministry’s assistance and they agreed to increase the subvention from just over $17,000 monthly to $45,000 for a limited time.

Andre Carrillo, BERT’s finance manager, explained that the parties will continue to negotiate over the next six months to arrive at a solution to ensure the organization’s financial stability. However in the meantime the subvention increase will allow BERT to continue operations and enable the organization to hire more staff, which is crucial at this juncture to keep the services going.

Carrillo explained that BERT and the ministry will formalize the agreement with a memorandum of understanding (MOU) which will cover the six months while negotiations continue.

“Nothing is really written in stone, its a working solution so we really need to see how this will play out,” Carrillo said.

He added that the organization is confident that the Ministry of Health will honor its commitments, but in the event that something goes wrong there is a contingency plan, where the Ministry will absorb BERT’s staff and take over the operations.

Last week, BERT began the process of terminating operations in the Belize district, because operations had become unsustainable. BERT’s Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) took the ambulances and reported to the Central Health Region compound on Thursday, because its Coral Grove office had shut down.

Following the shutdown, Director of Health Services, Dr. Marvin Manzanero, met with BERT to formulate a temporary agreement so the emergency services could continue uninterrupted.

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