Rebuilding a strong economy is the task of every government. But it is very important to realize that rebuilding a stronger economy begins with rebuilding the low and middle class families.
An increase with the National Insurance Board (NIB) contributions will hurt low income families and small businesses.
Many are still recovering from a pandemic while juggling minimum wage, and an inevitable growing inflation. Any new taxes at this time would be a genocide.
This country is faced with the worst hardship and economical unbalance it has ever seen. And no, it’s not due to this administration, but a global assault to world’s economy as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The impact on low-income families is gravely significant. Many of these families are struggling to pay for basic needs, including food, medicine, utility and rent bills.
With overdue bills already hanging over their heads, gasoline price increases, the possibilities of NIB contribution and electricity surcharge increases, it will be extremely difficult for low-income families to get back on their feet.
While there might be assistance from the government and different NGOs to help families pay their rent and utility bills, it’s not enough. And now these families will have to set aside even more of their income for gasoline, making it even more difficult for them to pay for back rent and overdue utilities.
For numerous low-income families, cutting back on car usage is not a choice. Gasoline is an essential good. People don’t utilize their cars to go on excursions or just parties, they utilize them to drive to work, purchase goods, go to the doctor and make other fundamental trips.
The government must implement strong and workable policies to mitigate the impact of high gas prices.
If we increase investment in infrastructure to reduce congestion on the roads it could possibly reduce commute times and therefore gas usage.
Additionally, supplement the public transport with incentives to help provide an alternative for commuting to work. This would also help many families that are vulnerable to the changes in gas prices.
Furthermore, it is time that we focus and transition our country to an electric society and team up with the global market. Electric cars are now the new norm.
With the few industries already here in The Bahamas that are supplying electric cars, it’s time to negotiate with them in making electric cars affordable to Bahamian families.
This is also the perfect time to lobby with other car dealerships and partner with them so that they, too, can transition from the sale of gas dependent vehicles to more electric vehicles. Not only would this reduce the entire country’s dependence on fossil fuel, but it also has the possibility of creating more jobs.
Until we can get the gas prices back to some sense of normalcy, another option should be to provide qualifying families across The Bahamas with an additional benefit incentive of at least $150 a month to help provide groceries. This would free up funds that families would otherwise use for food to pay for gasoline.
This is a global crisis, but many families are consuming this pain rather than absorbing it.
Families should be protected so they do not have to choose between paying for essentials, such as food and medicine, and paying for gasoline.
We need fast action, and it’s needed right now!
— Dr. Matheo Smith