While the spike in the number of covid19 cases requires an intervention, the Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) is saying there ought to have been a consideration in balancing the need to save lives and save livelihood before Government locked down certain sectors of the economy.
MSJ political leader David Abdulah said the many businesses that have closed and the thousands of people out of a job for an initial three weeks, is equivalent to the Prime Minister throwing them in the proverbial bamboo patch to fend for themselves and eventually drown under their economic burden.
Addressing the media on Sunday at the MSJ's Lord Street, San Fernando headquarters, Abdulah said the second lock down which began last Thursday had a huge impact on workers who do not have high wages or salaries and who would have had very little savings, under the best of circumstances, given the pandemic.
Given the fact that many of them were out of work for a significant part of last year they would probably have zero to zero minus savings, he said.
He noted that next Sunday, Mother’s Day, one of the biggest period of sales when boutiques, jewellery and perfume shops had an opportunity to generate some income, he does not believe closing shops in the malls, hair dressing saloons and spas were carefully thought out.
Abdulah said while Government provided some level of financial support during that first period of closure in 2020, to those who were temporarily laid off, insufficient as it that would have been, this time around Dr Rowley has said the economy cannot sustain a second bailout.
Abdulah advocated for employers who have the wherewithal to ensure employees are paid for the next three week and for Government to offer some assistance to those employer who cannot afford to pay their employees. “There are people who live from pay day to pay day and they need assistance.”
He also called on Government to reconsider its decision to close all restaurants and food outlets and allow curb side pick-up and delivery, similar to what is being offered to street food outlets.
Pointing out that Rowley often relies on Tobago colloquialism to get his points across, Abdulah referred to one of his sayings at last Thursday’s news conference about, “if you are born to hang, you would not drown.
“Well, Prime Minister, there are lots of people who were never born to be hung at all but you have put them out to hang, figuratively of course. They are drowning right now because they cannot keep their heads above water because they just don’t have money to buy food to put on the table or to be able to meet basic needs like rent, phone bills, cost of WiFi or data for their children’s devices.
“Prime Minister you have thrown all of these workers in the bamboo.” He also called on Rowley, the Attorney General, Minister of National Security and Commissioner of Police to sit with the Law Association and discuss the public health regulations as it relates to police officers entering people’s private property to break up gatherings. When this is done, the public will know where it stands.
Abdulah again asked Rowley, after 11 months, what was the status of Government’s Roadmap to Recovery initiative and the findings of a report which was presented by the team.