Statement from Justin Smith, Aspirant Candidate for Public Office in Response to the Government’s heightened COVID-19 Policing Measures.
Inciting fear among our people, while over policing them will NOT get us through this crisis. We need emphatic compassionate leadership to beat this; recognizing that as we fight COVID-19 so many persons are fighting joblessness, poverty, lack of provision and mental health challenges. Increased fines and penalties is not the way to go!
While I do support most of the measures taken and I give credit to the aid given it simply does not go far enough. Deferring loans, mortgages, rents and utility bills for a period of three months simply means that when this is all done, those who took this route will have three months of accumulated bills. This in tandem with increased joblessness and a reliance on tourism (whose rebound will be sluggish) is a recipe for economic disaster.
Our policies must go to the systemic root of the problems when we look at aid; for example almost half of our people are drowning in consumer loan debt due to predatory lending and the absence of an independent credit bureau, the minimum wage in this country is not a liveable wage which attributes to less than half of our people being able to cover life’s expenses much less save and acquire insurance. Our tax system is inequitable and our reliance on tourism is not sustainable. We have a broken social safety net filled with holes as people fall through mercilessly. If we fix these problems we can avert some of the economic problems of another crisis.
Furthermore, if we are hoping to one day wake up and COVID-19 is gone, we are mistaken. Experts have said that we must learn to coexist with COVID-19 at least until a vaccine or curse is found. That’s why some countries have taken the difficult and tough decision of reopening. If we stay closed and shut down, watching these cases and hoping they disappear we run the risk of not having a country to return to. We must teach and encourage our people to adapt to the new normal; social distancing, shopping schedules, washing hands, using technology for work and commerce. Policing and criminalizing them is NOT the way.