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This past week, I pondered over what should be my next topic to tackle in this space.
I thought about it long and hard since there seemed to be so much happening that must be of concern to the public.
There were issues that hit at my pocket directly given the higher expenses. Then there was my future to contemplate after reading about the $800 million haircut for the National Insurance Scheme following Government’s debt restructuring; as well as concerns about the elderly and how they are treated in that process.
Lastly, I felt the pain of those young people who left the comfort and safety of their homes millions of miles away to come here to pursue their dream, and be educated at the Washington University of Barbados which, according to the CEO, was to gain accreditation on August 31.
Those students were begging to be fed and for other necessities. Incredible to believe this was happening right under our noses. What an embarrassment!
So, with all that was going on, what should I write on?
Then, it all became so easy as my fingers hit the keyboard.
I have become more and more concerned about how the elderly are treated.
With a 78-year-old mother, I have become even more adamant that I will only spend my money with businesses, banks and service providers that make a special effort to treat the elderly in a way they deserve.
That means being patient and kind, recognising that some of them will need more help as well as time to process and understand perhaps sometimes the most simple of things.
That said, every customer deserves proper treatment but, I believe the elderly demand even more respect.
So, when I read of the plight of pensioner Llewellyn Johnson on Sunday, of course, my heart went out to him.
Here it is that this 82-year-old realised that he may not be benefiting from his life savings of $147 420 which he had invested in a short-term Treasury bill with an interest rate of 3.5 per cent on April 13 this year.
He, like others, will now be issued with new instruments that will have reduced interest rates and a longer maturity period.
Now, what sense does this make to a man of this age? In fact, I couldn’t have put it better than he did when he said his money would be disbursed over a 15-year period until the last payment in 2033.
“2033? At my age? Oh no, even if you try to reason, that is really way out.”
Yes, it is!
And Johnson, I am sure, is just one of many.
What about all the other pensioners who will be hit like the rest of us with high user fees at the banks?
What will happen to the elderly, some of whom can least afford it, who will be subjected to the increased rates on utilities?
While I understand the importance of Government trying to reprofile its debt, we must still make sure that vulnerable groups do not fall through the cracks.
Admittedly, it would have been difficult to know ahead the exact number of pensioners who would have been affected by the new measures, but here is the chance to know how many will be disadvantaged and do something about it.
We heard you, Prime Minister, when you gave the assurance to pensioners that you have their back in this instance with the debt restructuring. You also promised that the vulnerable would be specially dealt with in cases of increased taxes.
Be assured that we will be following up to make sure this promise is kept.
The elderly are far too important to not ensure they are treated well and properly looked after by us as individuals and by the state.
BERT (the Barbados Economic Recovery and Transformation programme) must be kind to the seniors who should be enjoying their twilight years. (CM)