BLP COLUMN: NIS should apologize
BLP legacy: Constitution amended to prevent the salaries of public officers being cut ever again; National Heroes Day inaugurated; passed Copyright, Unfair Competition, Geographical Indications and Integrated Circuits Acts.
The Democratic Labour Party (DLP), well known over its 56 years of existence for barefacedness, recently took this brazenness to a new extreme by making it seem that it was doing National Insurance Scheme (NIS) pensioners a gigantic favour, when the Government was forced to make a humiliating and hasty retreat from its ill-conceived plan to force senior citizens to journey to banks for their monies rather than continue to receive their cheques in the comfort of their homes.
That was the only sensible conclusion that could have been drawn from the Government’s statement of clarification, delivered on television and all by Minister of Social Security Dr Esther Byer-Suckoo’s purr that the “ultimate aim” was not only National Insurance Scheme efficiency, “but the satisfaction of those whom that department serves”.
But the DLP needs to get back in touch with the public and hopefully get to understand that it will take much more than a cameo appearance on television by a telegenic minister and her dulcet tones to eradicate the tidal wave of insecurity that had swept over not only our NIS pension recipients, but also the vast majority of citizens who fully appreciated the stress, hardship and disruption that would have engulfed the lives of our seniors had the compulsory bank account scheme been enforced.
That’s because everybody but the away-from-reality Dems know and appreciate the stability and sense of community togetherness that prevails through the opportunity for interaction by pensioners with their postmen, neighbours, post office, pharmacy and supermarket personnel.
Coming on the heels of hardships that rained down on senior citizens through the costly changes already made by the DLP to the Drug Service, pensioners and their families had begun to charge the administration with harbouring and executing an anti-seniors agenda, in great contrast to the sugar-coated promises that had been directed at them in the DLP’s manifesto to win the 2008 general election.
However, while Minister Suckoo promised “further analysis” before changes are made, she still did not say that there would be the public consultations that it was widely agreed should have taken place before such drastic alterations were attempted. So much then for the “transparency and accountability” the DLP had promised would be their routine approach to governance, amounting to yet another broken DLP promise.
Neither did she apologize to the pensioners, which would have been the “good governance” thing to do.
But in the midst of this major issue for the NIS was the complete silence from its chairman, Mr Tony Marshall, who as a leading radio talk-show host is known for his strong views on the need for effective communication and improvements through public sector reform.
Surely one would have naturally expected this great communicator to have come to the public on behalf of NIS to persuade us about the merits of this efficiency before the department under him had no choice but to abandon it through a “grey power” revolt by senior citizens for their legal entitlement, not political privilege.
The DLP will not be easily forgiven or forgotten for it.