The United National Congress is of the view that the proposal by some businesses for even harsher lockdowns will lead to more suffering throughout the country.
The Opposition, via a statement, said it notes the recent discussion between some business chambers and Government as it pertains to the current Covid 19 crisis.
While the party agrees that “there is a grave health risk facing our nation following the massive spike in positive cases after the Easter weekend,” they also note the significant hardship that has gripped many families as a result of not being able to earn an income.
Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar said “I agree with some of the very good points put forward by members of the business sector and I commend them for many of their helpful suggestions.
However, I firmly disagree with the calls for harsher lockdown measures against the working members of the population who are deemed non-essential workers.”
“Many of the businesses calling for harsher lockdown measures against the non-essential workers are in fact exempt and have been in continuous operation over the last four weeks earning income.”
The Siparia MP said “The non-essential working population are already at their wit’s end as to how they are going to meet their rent, light and water bills, mortgage payments, loan instalments, and even grocery bills at the end of the month.”
“The government may deem them non-essential but the fact is these citizens’ ability to earn a salary is very essential to their survival. Currently, over 300 thousand citizens and thousands of Venezuelan migrants cannot legally work. Many of these people live paycheck to paycheck and have already lost four weeks in wages. Many have no savings and will soon lose everything. ”
Additionally, the release said “It is a sad state of affairs when citizens are forced to choose between working to putting food on the table or facing jail time for trying to earn an honest salary.”
She said “The Government’s plans for relief are not on par with what is needed to immediately relieve the burdens borne by people. I call on them to overhaul this system forthwith and put plans in place to fast-track approval and disbursement of grants and other forms of assistance.”
“To deal with the plight of the poor, the Government must engage in much wider stakeholder consultation. Local Government bodies, Councillors, religious bodies, educational bodies, Trade Unions, small businesses, NGOs and charities, must all be brought into the discussions for proper planning to save people’s lives and livelihoods. ”
More than ever, the release noted, “it is apparent that we are not all in the same boat, only the same storm. Some have yachts, others have rafts, and others are drowning.
“The people suffering the most are the poor, construction workers, domestic workers, food service workers, migrants etc. Harsher lockdowns will not save them, only vaccines, and allowing them to work again under improved health guidelines will do so.”