Alberto Bute, Claire Elshot and Raymond Jessurun.
MADAME ESTATE–The Consumers Coalition says the relief proposal from Minister Johnson does not eradicate poverty. The recent proposal to bring in relief to civil servants made by the Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication (TEATT) Stuart Johnson during Wednesday’s press briefing left the coalition with many questions.
Consumers Coalition representative Claire Elshot said at a press conference on Thursday, “We think the Minister of TEATT is already on the campaign trail and wants to attract the votes of civil servants. The proposal of the Minister of TEATT is a discriminatory proposal.”
The coalition questioned why the minister would ask for a one-time tax break on the vacation allowance of the civil servants, but not ask for a tax break on the vacation allowance for all workers in the society every year.
“What about vacation allowance for the seniors getting a company pension and an Algemene Ouderdomsverzekering (AOV) pension? They are not getting a vacation allowance so there’s no tax break for them,” Elshot said.
She further states that the coalition wants to see “real relief.” “If the minister really wants to bring relief to the civil servants, why did he and his government coalition give the civil servants their cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) with retroactive force until 2012. This was the last time the government complied with the indexation of the civil servant salaries.”
Elshot said if the minister really wants to bring relief for the seniors, orphans, widows/widowers and the disabled “why did we not hear from the Minister of TEATT at the beginning of this year providing the cost-of-living increase index figures over 2018?”
“The proposal of the minister does not increase the monthly income of the workers, neither of the seniors and the unemployed, but his proposal increases the income of the businesses and their profit,” she concludes.
In response to these comments, Johnson issued a statement Thursday night saying, “While I do not give a platform to empty vessels, I will say that relief must come for all the people, but we have to start somewhere. Therefore, while others will use my statement as a talking point, I have arrived at a starting point.
“Everyone should get relief, and it is never a bad thing when you can look within your own home or organisation and first fix the people there before being critical of others. Leadership, by example, means that one must also respect other people’s right to their opinion. I firmly believe we should be taking care of those who work to shape policy and society as civil servants, so they can be motivated to develop strategies that bring relief for the masses.”