Speaking in the Senate Friday, Senator Crawford said that most of the government support initiatives during the COVID-19 pandemic went to persons in the larger formal industries, leaving out the micro sectors on the fringe of the economy to fend for themselves.
Senator Crawford said craft vendors, corner shops, beauty salons and barbershops, community food stalls and bar owners, who mainly make up the informal sector, are not benefiting from the government’s assistance programme. These persons will continue to have a hard time recovering from the fallout owing to the continued daily curfew across the island which is having a crippling impact on shops, bars and places of amusement and entertainment.
“How can you say that if you are not registered as a bar or place of entertainment you do not qualify for safety net assistance? This situation, for some of these community-type enterprises, is equivalent to starvation. It, therefore, begs the question, is starvation sufficient or reasonable punishment for being a small operator; and if so, why? Sen. Crawford asked.
He said that there are persons in the tourism sector who have been earning a living by selling craft items, gathered from formal and informal craft traders, but they, too, have not been considered for assistance.
“We acknowledge that (they exist and are feeling the hardship); how can they not be considered for the care packages? I believe that these things are necessary to consider because if thirty percent of the vendors cannot recover when tourism recovers, how are we going to get that GCT revenue? How are we going to get that consumption revenue; how are we going to get those taxes we expect to get to achieve the 60 per cent debt to GDP in two years?” he lamented.
Sen. Crawford said those hotel workers whose tax deductions were not paid over to the government by their employees must not be unjustly punished on account of the failure of their employers. The deduction was taken from the workers and should have been paid over the relevant authorities. In fact, in this process, the government should ensure that those employers are penalized for not complying with the law.
He said the government should also consider withholding any licenses from these entities until they pay over the deductions.
Senator Crawford said he believes and is advocating for the workers whose deduction were taken to receive their care packages.
- Countries: Jamaica