We would like to commend the government of The Bahamas for the work of the National Food Distribution Task Force, which has impacted the lives of thousands of needy Bahamians in search of food in the COVID-19 pandemic.
Those among us who are most vulnerable have been targeted to receive assistance to the tune of $1 million per week. While this feat is quite admirable, thousands of unemployed Bahamians have been unable to pay their rent, mortgages, bank loans and other commitments.
Many landlords have been unable to meet their financial obligations and quite a number of tenants have been evicted from their apartments, while others have been served with notices and are on the verge of eviction for non-payment.
The number of homeless people on New Providence is growing daily as a result of the high unemployment rate. This is creating severe stress and hardship on many families. Our people are suffering.
Parents have a challenge just finding food for their children at home while at the same time being given the runaround by government agencies.
We recommend that the government make funds available for rental assistance as soon as possible. The problem of homelessness could evolve into a major social ill if it is not dealt with now. What is really needed at this time is a stimulus package that will take care of the people and boost the economy.
A $2 billion package will go a long way over the next two years while our tourism industry is generating no income for the government or for workers in the industry.
We cannot allow our people to continue to suffer in these challenging times.
We recommend that 50 percent of the food budget be used for rental assistance.
Also, small business loans and grants should be made available to existing businesses and new businesses that will focus on manufacturing plants, factories and food production.
This will stimulate our fragile economy.
Our leaders must be intentional and act quickly to reduce the effect of the global recession that is being forecasted and ensure that the basic needs of every Bahamian is met.
Emergency shelters should be acquired or constructed for homeless families and street people.
Taxes should be reduced on the poor and middle-class.
The high cost of living and doing business in The Bahamas must be reduced. The practice of price gouging in this pandemic should be severely punished and the Consumer Protection Commission should be more proactive and not be so silent. We also must strengthen consumer protection laws.
— Bishop Walter S. Hanchell,
chairman, Citizens For Justice Bahamas