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Pensioners deserve more

Ricky Jordan

Pensioners deserve more

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LIKE MOST BARBADIANS, I’m wondering what on earth the Government is doing by suddenly removing the pensions of thousands of former public sector employees who have worked hard to make this country the paradise that it is.
Like many Barbadians, I feel this personally because my mother is a retired Government worker and I don’t know how this will affect her – financially or emotionally.
From National Conservation Commission (NCC) workers, who used to keep our parks and beaches clean, to the School Meals servers who provided sustenance for many of us, and those at the Sanitation Service Authority who cleaned the entire island – these workers at the lowest end of the public service pay scale are now having almost 50 per cent of their much deserved pensions taken away.
Plugging financial holes Is this an example of plugging financial holes in order to save a cash-strapped Government some money?
Did some incident occur to cause the Government to suddenly want to make right an illegality that has been occurring for nearly 40 years?
What happened to cause the Auditor General’s Office and the Office of the Director of the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) to make these “necessary” adjustments to the monthly pensions in order to conform with Section 32A of the Statutory Boards Pensions Act Cap 384 – a section of law that applies to public service officers who entered the service after November 1, 1975?
Why now?
I have been asking in vain for the Minister of Finance to address this, since the letters to these pensioners merely speak to what is being enforced and not why this is suddenly being addressed.
We’re not dealing here with people who worked in plush offices, drove nice cars and travelled on taxpayers’ money.
These are Barbadians who made stretching a dollar into an art form, who walked miles to and from work, whether rain fell or sun shone, in order to pay for their children’s uniforms and school fees.
And those who benefited from those countless sacrifices now sit behind a desk, look into a computer and find ways to cut Government spending by taking away half their parents’ pension?
Pray tell me, what sense does it make to cut the pension of elderly and sick Barbadians while at the same time setting up funds and programmes to care for the elderly and the vulnerable?
It is clear that we are on the verge of not having an economy; but if this is an example of the hardship to be inflicted on the poor in our society, we won’t have much of a society either.
I TAKE NO COMFORT in the slaying of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.
He made a once poor Libya into one of the richest oil-producing states in the world with a higher standard of living, in many cases, than the United States. But he has been no saint, and is probably responsible for several innocent people being murdered in his country, where his own people rose up against him.
So I will not romanticize the so-called Lion of Africa who ruled Libya with a rod of iron for 40 years.
But he did not deserve to die in a way that to most right-thinking observers smells like an assassination.
He was hated by many of his people who can give personal recollections of his tyranny; so what? The leaders of the invading countries – France, Britain and the United States – are also hated by many of their nationals.
Nicolas Sarkozy is not beloved in his native France, and we know by now how many Americans feel about Barack Obama, while recent riots across London unearthed some pent-up anger under David Cameron’s watch – but that doesn’t warrant foreign forces going into those countries and taking out these men.
Gaddafi should have been alive, as news agency photos showed him to be shortly after his capture, and ready to face trial. He and his loyalists would have had their say, and the witnesses who had suffered under his tyranny would have had theirs. But somewhere between his capture and arrival at the hospital in Misrata, he was killed.
Not surprisingly, the United Nations has also expressed unease and has scheduled a thorough investigation.
So what about the other leaders across North Africa? They too must now be wondering whether they will perish at the hands of the allied forces, all of whom have key things in common: they are chief proponents of the African slave trade; they are imperial colonizers who pillaged Africa and the Caribbean, and they are unapologetic proponents and masters of the New World Order.
And if we choose to see this from a religious perspective, we are seeing played out on the world stage three proponents of the Christian West systematically slaying – not necessarily, as we’re told on CNN and Fox, the world’s most hated terrorists and arch-enemies of the United States and its allies but – the most visible faces of Islam.
And, biblically speaking, if we’re witnessing these three superpowers forming the “one-world” force of the Antichrist and the beast, then who’s next on the hit list?