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Reducing cost of living for families


Reducing cost of living for families

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THERE ARE MANY FAMILIES in Barbados who are living pay cheque to pay cheque and are vulnerable to major unplanned expenses. Others cannot pay all of their mortgage payments, utility bills and food expenses, and must prioritise payments. Some are cutting back on food and are partially dependent on the kindness of family, neighbours or the church.

Many who are living on the boundaries of poverty will never bring themselves to stand outside of the Welfare Department. They will endure patiently while praying to God for His provision. However, not all have this faith or patience.

Some mothers are known to prostitute themselves and/or their children in order to survive. This then becomes a root cause of specific problems in our schools, which should concern us all.

What would Solutions Barbados do to significantly reduce the cost of living in Barbados? What would we do so that some mothers would not feel compelled to pursue such desperate measures?

To provide immediate relief, every household would receive a subsidence amount of water at no charge. Therefore, the genuine poor (whether working or not) can survive without embarrassment, having to beg or engage in transactional sex.

To avoid paying a water bill, the family would need to use the free water very efficiently. The water rates above this subsistence amount would be increased to compensate for the free amount.

A similar initiative would be pursued with electricity, where a free subsistence amount would be provided to each household, with the rates above this minimum being increased to compensate for the free amount.

As with the water, the family would need to use the limited amount of free electricity for important uses only.

With utilities addressed, the next important survival item is food. For immediate relief, all import taxes would be removed from healthy foods to make them more affordable.

To address future needs, property taxes would be significantly reduced if one large fruit tree (for example, breadfruit or mango) is planted and maintained on every 500 square feet of available land. Therefore, in a few years, it is expected that no one living in Barbados could claim to be hungry.