The main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) is looking at ways in which it can provide support to the poor and venerable in the country.
Although not being able to provide much detail about what form the support will take, the NDC political Leader Nazim Burke told a radio talk show program that at present one of the things they are looking at is what concrete ways they can come up with in assisting those that are in distress.
“Our hearts go out to those families who simply cannot make ends meet,” he said.
Burke believes that the quality of life of a number of people has significantly deteriorated in the last 15 months since the New National Party (NNP) of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell came into office following the February 2013 poll.
He also said the standard of living of the population has gone down drastically as their incomes have remained steady but their disposable income has been reduced.
As part of the austerity measures taken by government to correct the island’s grave fiscal imbalance, workers earning above $3000 monthly now have to pay income tax.
Burke said the economic situation in the country has gotten worst under the Mitchell government.
“On one level some people have lost their jobs so they have no income, on another level those people who have kept their jobs have much less disposable income to spend at the moment, and then on the other side because of the Customs Service Charge (increase) on all goods, the price of the goods have actually gone up,” he added.
The NDC political Leader gave a broad over view of the current state of the economy.
According to him, government debts to the local private sector currently exceeds $100M for the very first time.
He expressed fears that if businesses collapse as a result of the high level of unpaid claims, this can results in a deterioration of the unemployment situation in the country.
He made reference to RBTT Bank having to write off $22M of government bonds as an impairment cost of loans and advances which came up to $14M
Burke who is a former Finance Minister believes that additional taxes being faced by the people which include the doubling of the property taxes are having terrible consequences on their standard of living.
He said the commitment receive by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) of US$21.9M over a three year period would hardly make a dent to the economic wooed facing the people.
The NDC boss indicated that when converted this is merely EC$20M per year, and the government monthly wage bill is close to $26M.
“So the money that will be received from the IMF for one year will not even pay the government’s wage bill for one month,” he said.
Quoting figures which he said have been released by Prime Minister Dr. Mitchell himself, Burke said the unemployment among young people now stands at 52.6%, while the official unemployment figure is 32%, and the poverty rate is in excess of 37%.
Burke made reference to the regular debushing program which last took place in December 2013.
He noted that this form of short-term employment is looked forward to by the less fortunate in the country.
“If the government cannot provide anything for these folks what are we left with?” he asked.
Burke has been tasked by Congress with rebuilding the party following its humiliating 15-0 defeat at the hands of the Mitchell-led NNP at the polls.
Dr. Mitchell was able to sway the electorate with his promise of massive job creation and the building of a new economy.