Government did not do enough to provide basic necessities to workers in the budget.

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In the basic necessities of food and shelter, the government has not done enough for the layman, this was the view of both Mickela Panday and Timothy Bailey, President of the Steel Workers Union of Trinidad and Tobago, as they discussed the 2021/2022 budget on Mickela’s talk show ‘It’s Time with Mickela Panday’.

“I believe that just removing vats on certain items is not sufficient as vat can easily be replaced, all a grocer or anyone who owns a mart has to do is increase the price of the product to compensate for the loss in vat and that there and there would basically eliminate the removal of vat,” said Mr. Bailey.

He stated that what should have happened was that the key essentials such as rice, flour, sugar, oil and salt should have had regulated prices for the next year. That that move would have been a good initiative that workers would have reaped the rewards of and benefited from.

Mr.Bailey went on to state that he looked at the budget as something that continues to happen over and over. “It never reaches down to the ordinary man, to the worker and that is so unfortunate in layman terms we call it a ‘pappyshow’.” Unfortunately. Is it anything really feasible that workers could hold to, ordinary citizens could hold to, to say that I got this from the budget?”, he said.”

Moving on to the topic of housing Panday, before asking her question to Bailey stated a little of her own opinion stating that food and shelter were two of the main necessities of life and that the government allocated 610 million to housing while there are thousands of empty houses vacant not being allocated to the homeless or even young people who wanted to get onto the property ladder. That people were begging for years for homes and all those houses were just there rotting.

“610 million dollars to be spent on additional housing when the houses that already exist have not been allocated. It’s unfortunate and it tells a story by itself.” said Bailey. He further went on to state that housing is something that is supposed to be accessible and available to the ordinary man in Trinidad and Tobago.

“The system, as it is in its current state, it needs to be looked at, it needs to be restructured at the end of the day housing is part of the governance system and it should be made available to those most in need and making it available to those most in need cannot be by a lottery system but it must be assessed by a case-by-case basis and preferences must be made especially when people are in circumstances that are hard pressed and they need housing immediately,” stated Bailey.
“Covid has left us exposed as workers, exposed as employers in that employers cannot pay in that they cannot give reimbursement to workers whether it via furlough or layoff, in most cases workers cannot be retrenched because companies have closed and companies that have closed because of financial hardships workers will be going home without any separation benefit,” said Bailey.

He stated that he would have expected the Government and the Minister of Finance after analyzing all that has happened to have implemented some kind of social safety net, whether it was an unemployment fund where they could tap into times of needs like this.