Submitted by Douglas
Caswell Franklyn, Head of Unity Workers Union
IS THERE MORE OR LESS POVERTY TODAY IN BARBADOS THAN IN 2008? I say there is a lot less since 2008, despite what the Barbados Labour Party and its supporters are saying.
If one reads the claptrap written in today’s Sunday Sun – NOT ALL BLACK AND WHITE: Govt should resign for the greater good – by the ornery Caswell Franklyn (who the Labour Party jettisoned after a former BLP minister was elevated) it would appear to the uninformed that conditions in Barbados are akin to those in Haiti. What Absolute Rubbish!
RIP Nicole Harrison-Watson
The death of 37 year old Nicole Harrison-Watson remains top of the mind for many Barbadians a couple days after she was found murdered at her Ferniehurst, Black Rock, St Michael home. While it does no good to speculate about what motivated her assailant (a suspect is being questioned by Police), it affords the living the opportunity to critically and dispassionately analyse the poor conditions which many Barbadians live under in Barbados and in particular our young women.
BU subscribes to the view that a woman with her unique nurturing quality was created to complement a man. When the two – man and woman – function in harmony, they are able to optimize on their mental, physical, and emotional state. The result is that the society we cohabit becomes a good place in which we can live quality lifes. The challenge of the government, NGOs and civil society at large is how do we manage to achieve the societal equilibrium required with all the competing ideologies at play.
Without fuelling the puerile debate about building a society instead of an economy, how can we pontificate about the success of the Barbados society, if according to the most recent Barbados Country Assessment of Living Conditions Report (CALC) “persons living below the poverty line in Barbados has double, since the last study on living conditions and poverty was undertaken over a decade ago”? Pertinent in the report is that 19.3% of Barbadian individuals in 15% of households earn income below the poverty line – 9.1% of individuals 7% of households were living below the indigence line at the time the survey was carried out. An easy conclusion to make, anecdotally though it is, these numbers with the prevailing economic hardships must be trending upward.
The present government – which has been in control for most of the post-internal self-government years and after four years at the helm this time round – has suddenly realised that poverty is a major social problem in Barbados. As the old people used to say, it is better late than never – even if we are talking about a nation that pats itself on the shoulder repeatedly telling the world how developed it now is and about its 99 per cent literacy and is prepared to roll out the methodologically flawed UN Human Index report as evidence. Both fictions, of course, but why allow such facts, with their brutish, painful reality, to get in the way of a good story.
The real scandal of post-independence Barbados is the recent government’s admission that nearly 20 per cent of Barbadians (19.3 per cent) are living on annual incomes below $7861, in other words, abject poverty. In real terms, that means over 50000 Barbadians are living on about $150 a week, with the likely figure much higher, if we were to include those who are two pay days away from losing their homes. We can be certain that most of the official poor will be the elderly, young unemployed, single parents, the disabled and people with mental problems. Further, with inflation running at about 12 per cent, VAT on food, clothes, and other essentials, the people who can least afford it are paying a high price for government manipulation of the inflation numbers.