Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Let’s draw the line here


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It is to be regretted that a number of private sector-inspired voices have been suggesting in recent times that a central feature of this country’s economic recovery programme should be the rolling back of social services.

I find this painfully disturbing since it goes without saying that the persons who stand to be hurt most if these unconscionable calls are ever implemented, would be the already poor and downtrodden masses of Barbadian men, women and children.

Right thinking Barbadians should consider it grossly disturbing when persons who (a) never have to contemplate where the next meal is coming from; (b) do not have to juggle the payment of utility bills; (c) do not lose a night’s sleep worrying about the threat of having household appliances repossessed; (d) utility services disconnected, or (e) agonise over their powerlessness to prevent their children from going to bed hungry, can have the gumption to consider, furthermore suggest, that the lifeline which so many of our people depend upon be downsized, if not totally dismantled.

It must be made abundantly clear that Barbadians who have little option but to depend on existing social services, did not cause the economic crisis which has been plaguing this country for the last decade or more.

Seniors who cannot eat without their NIS contributory or non-contributory pension, cannot be accused of throwing the proverbial monkey wrench into the management of this country’s economic affairs.

Those unfortunate men, women and children whose lives depend on the already minimal disability benefits they receive, can in no way, either directly or indirectly, be seen as having anything to do with the sorry economic pass to which we have come and which now seems to threaten their livelihood.

The old Chinese proverb states “never judge a man until you have  walked a mile in his moccasins”. It is accepted that that there will always be an economically comfortable sector of our population and that they are not to be envied, despised or become targets of anger or hostility. However, the fact that any of them or their mouthpieces can feel bold enough or so brazenly insensitive as to call for the withdrawal of critical social services from the broad masses of Barbadians who are already sucking salt, must be seen as crossing the line.

We must hold fast to the determination that the quality of life of senior citizens, the differently abled community, those with no meaningful income or viable means of survival, and other such citizens, must not be further eroded to the extent that they suffer more adversely than is presently the case.

We have a sacred duty not to buy into the narrative that social services are a major contributing factor in the seemingly ungovernable fiscal deficit or dwindling foreign reserves.

I say a resounding yes to the need for higher levels of productivity and minimising waste wherever it can be located, but I urge all Barbadians with a social conscience to resist with all the might that can be mustered, any attempt to drag the rug from under the feet of our already suffering masses. Especially those with little or no voice in today’s scheme of things. We must stand up and be counted as warriors in the cause of fellow citizens who are less fortunate than ourselves.

I wish a better life for all of our people.


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