The self-quarantining of Minnis must be taken into financial context

Dear Editor,

Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis has gone into self-quarantine due to possible exposure to COVID-19 at the Cecil Wallace-Whitfield Centre.

With the availability of modern technology, such as Zoom, Skype, Facebook and Whatsapp, Minnis would have no problem continuing in his roles as prime minister and competent authority, while in isolation at home.

Ministry of Health officials are following recommendations by the World Health Organization by urging COVID-19 patients to undergo quarantine for 14 days, in order to curb the spread of COVID-19.

For many Bahamians, such as the hundreds of jobless Nassuvians who toed long lines in the scorching heat at the Thomas A. Robinson Stadium in order to collect National Insurance Board (NIB) payouts on August 10, being subjected to quarantine isn’t financially practical. Herein lies the importance of NIB getting its act together by being more efficient.

As with so many government agencies, red tape bureaucracy is an all too common issue.

Too often, frustrated Bahamians are leaving NIB with empty hands, only to go home with nothing to give their children.

Growing up with a single parent, I am all too familiar with receiving disappointing news from social services. Back then, we used to get a $30 food voucher every three months or so.

I can vividly remember my mother giving me crackers and soda around midnight for dinner. We had virtually nothing to eat the day before. Consequently, I can empathize with struggling Bahamians.

The financial disparity between the haves and the have-nots in The Bahamas has been accentuated by COVID-19.

Going without an income since March has plunged thousands of Bahamian families into abject poverty, to the extent that the current economic crisis is as disastrous as the Great Depression in the United States during the 1930s.

Minnis’ revelation to the nation in a recent national address of 27,705 households, which represents more than 110,000 individuals, receiving food assistance from the National Food Distribution Task Force, underscores the dire situation over one-fourth of the Bahamian population is currently facing.

Bahamians, those who have fallen through the cracks, are faced with two difficult choices: they can either self-quarantine, in the event they’ve been exposed to COVID-19, and face near starvation and the disruption of their utilities due to the lack of payment of bills; or they can go out and toe long lines with the hopes of getting an elusive NIB handout.

Minnis, thankfully, doesn’t have to face such difficult options, owing to his well-deserved status as prime minister and a highly accomplished gynaecologist and obstetrician.

Bahamian multi-millionaires are not feeling the effects of the new coronavirus-driven economic downturn, like the average Bahamian who typically lives from hand to mouth.

This is not to precipitate a conflict between the economic classes, mind you; I am a free market capitalist in the tradition of Adam Smith and John Calvin. Nor am I attempting to lay a guilt trip on wealthy and successful Bahamians.

Whatever they have achieved in life is theirs, due to the Lord’s common grace.

What I am attempting to do is garner empathy for the thousands of Bahamians who have hit financial rock bottom. The Bahamas needs more Bahamian philanthropists.

Kevin Evans

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