by Maya D’Souza
Increased unemployment, scarcity of opportunities and lack of assistance are some of the problems that are still raging in this COVID-19 crisis. Many are without incomes for months on end while applications for relief schemes are unsuccessful. They are ineligible for assistance despite being in the same predicament as those who are eligible for relief schemes.
Is this the hallmark of a First World Nation and one that claims that no one will be left behind?
Do we pin our hopes on post-elections for better outcomes when we continue to be let down by current schemes that have us run around in circles?
We are a First World Nation without a robust safety net and have no unemployment benefits. And this pandemic has revealed the truth – we stand alone as many beg for relief schemes or weather this storm with more debts as we head into an uncertain future.
How exactly has the pandemic been tackled to inspire confidence? Can we fully support the ruling party with a strong mandate to bring us forward in the new normal?
With the pandemic still raging, the second wave of outbreaks is possible. However, the government’s focus is now on the upcoming elections. Hence, it is only fair that we ask for a report card on performance to determine if we have too little or they have too much.
Based on the announced budgets, have they successfully delivered on the promised COVID-19 relief schemes to be disbursed to all impacted parties?
We again have a one size fits all policy in place despite acknowledging that this pandemic is an unprecedented event. Perhaps we need facts and figures to determine that assistance for all impacted citizens is in place and delivered as promised.
Is the role of the ruling party to merely announce relief schemes and outsource it to government-linked third-party organizations to do the needful? Who is accountable here, and where is the transparency of the due process?
Having statistics on failed businesses due to COVID-19, the unemployed and those without incomes and how they are assisted with living expenses these past months is crucial. Or are they required to subject themselves to a battery of tests to qualify as a destitute who needs handouts?
The government has a duty of care to provide citizens with care in times of need or at least empower them to utilize a portion of their funds in their retirement account. If citizens aren’t assisted now in their current jobless predicament, can we expect people to pin their hopes on actionable policies and new budgets to support them after the elections?
Fact is, unemployment numbers are likely to increase, and many are walking alone in this journey where livelihoods of entire families hang in the balance.
Every citizen should have an equal chance to survive in any given crisis. We have more than enough to pay million-dollar salaries to ministers and ensure that civil servants have their iron-clad rice bowls in this pandemic.
Does every citizen also have a right to live with dignity regardless of their status or circumstance? Or should citizens become destitute and depend on the government for meagre handouts? What is the use of one’s retirement fund when you are not able to sustain yourself and take care of your family in an unprecedented crisis where jobs and opportunities are scarce? Are those retirement funds for the use of the ruling party only?
How can they ask for a mandate when the report card is incomplete? If a ruling party is unable to be held accountable, be transparent and do right by its people, then the people need to right wrongs. So far leaders remain in a bubble within their own comfortable space, and hence are unable to respond to changing national needs.
Perhaps the time has come to show them that we’ve had enough of their rigid control over all matters and inequalities in the present system.
Now that we are free to vote, we can vote for change. Only then can we collectively influence matters that affect our lives, livelihoods and speak freely on a range of other issues.