I am writing this open letter to you with hopes that it will get your attention. I am not blaming you for the current issues that are happening in Antigua at this present moment due to the coronavirus, because I believe that if this virus was not present the people of Antigua & Barbuda would’ve been in a better position mentally and financially.
I understand that the borders had to be closed, a curfew had to be put into law and a temporary closure of numerous businesses. We saw how quickly the virus caused our tourism sector to plummet and the loss of jobs.
I agree with you that the borders had to be reopened to somewhat keep the country afloat, although our health is at risk. I also agree that the reopening of businesses within the country had to be done.
But what I don’t agree with is seeing that the big businesses get first preference in everything so far in the country. What happened to the owners of small businesses? There are people in Antigua right now who are barely eating much less surviving without a job, and the bills are still coming. I am happy that APUA granted some sort of discount (hoping that it will continue until January 31, 2021).
Why is it so hard to give citizens some sort of stimulus? How hard is it for at least the next four consecutive months all government ministers take a 50% pay cut to help? Then in return, at least $700 monthly can be granted to people (via a mailed cheque) who have been contributing to social security for more than seven years.
That the money will be circulated back into the economy because I know that you are aware that if someone right now gets $700 it will be spent on bills and or food.
The people of Antigua are getting frustrated slowly but surely and if things boil over, there aren’t enough law enforcers in the country to control more than 100,000 people from making a statement in St. Johns.
We need help financially, especially the hotel employees, vendors from the vendor’s mall (who depend on the cruise ships), pensioners and others who got greatly affected due to the virus.
The food packages are helpful to some extent but I’m sure that you are aware that in some households there is a mother, father and at least two children who need food. What can one bag of food do for so many mouths? Also the food packages aren’t even distributed on a weekly basis. Sometimes an individual will get and another time they won’t and that is happening right here in City East. I have seen the tears in people’s eyes and I honestly do feel their pain.
Sometimes I wish I was rich to help out these people but I am not. Your government has treated the well known wealthy individuals of this country like kings and queens so far during this pandemic. Of course we know that they give back but very rarely.
This letter is not about politics, it is mainly about the livelihood of the citizens of Antigua and Barbuda due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Written by : Joneiro Butcher