FNM calls on govt to do more as UN highlights food insecurity

Free National Movement Deputy Leader Shanendon Cartwright yesterday accused the government of not prioritizing relief for the most vulnerable Bahamians struggling with inflation.

“As many poor, low income and working-class Bahamian families continue to struggle and drown under the weight of sustained inflation and a high cost of living, the government continues to ignore the cries of those desperately in need of social assistance,” Cartwright said in a statement.

Cartwright said it has been months since the government placed “a burdensome food tax” on breadbasket items.

He said it remains “defiant” by not removing value-added tax from those items.

The Minnis administration raised VAT from 7.5 percent to 12 percent and removed the tax from breadbasket items in 2018. In January, the government lowered the tax to 10 percent and reimplemented them to breadbasket items.

“An even greater injustice has added insult to injury,” Cartwright said.

“The government’s long-awaited promise to structure more programming and more assistance to the poor and most vulnerable in our society is nowhere to be found.

“This empty promise has made daily living for thousands of struggling Bahamian families even harder and more painful.

“In this inflationary environment, the government should be doing all it can as quickly as it can to help the most vulnerable among us not create additional burden and hurt for them.”

He called on the government to bring “much needed relief” to the poor, low income and working Bahamian families who are “desperate for help”.

“It’s the right thing to do,” Cartwright said.

Cartwright pointed to a recent United Nations’ World Food Program survey that revealed that many Bahamians have been forced to eat less or skip meals this year as inflation continues to burden The Bahamas.

The Caribbean Food Security and Livelihood Survey, which was launched by CARICOM, found that, of the 734 Bahamians surveyed in February and August, 204 people worried they would not have enough food to eat.

One hundred and forty people said they went a day without eating and 166 people said there were times in the past 30 days when they were hungry but did not eat.

“This survey shows that while the effects of COVID-19 had a profound impact on how people in the Caribbean meet their most pressing needs and earn a living, its impact has been significantly aggravated by the cost of living crisis,” the report noted.

“Most countries in the Caribbean have still not recovered from the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving them ill-equipped to cope with yet another crisis. Incomes are still depressed, labor markets are still struggling to recover, and the prices of food, fuel and fertilizers are at record levels.”

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Jasper Ward

Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues. Education: Goldsmiths, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice

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