A Government minister today warned Barbadians to brace for a significant reduction in state-funded social services.
Speaking at the end of the General Insurance Association of Barbados’ annual general meeting at Radisson Aquatica hotel this afternoon, Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development Donville Inniss cautioned that due to the worrying economic challenges facing the country, the hour had arrived for Barbadians to look after their own welfare and not rely solely on the state.
“When I look at the adjustments that we are going to have to make to the social services in Barbados, I keep saying that the state cannot keep providing everything to everyone as they expect it. So I tell my children that they are going to have to start to save some money for their children’s insurance, I also tell them that they are going to have to get insurance. We are going to have to inculcate in our people’s minds that they are going have to take a greater level of responsibility for their lifestyle and of course the outcome,” Inniss said.
The warning comes against the backdrop of concerns about the declining state of the national economy.
And just this week, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart called for urgent consideration to be given to the future of three key state enterprises. Amid mounting pressure on his Government to slash its overall deficit, Stuart has ordered that immediate introspection be made of the operations of the loss-making Queen Elizabeth Hospital, the Barbados Transport Board and the Sanitation Service Authority, which now appear destined for the proverbial official chopping block.
However, while staying clear of those discussions, Inniss zeroed in on the need for housing insurance, while highlighting the noticeable inability of some Barbadians to bounce back after losing their homes to fire, saying this was cause for much concern.
Given the increasing number of house fires, he said he was disappointed that some Barbadians would more readily purchase cell phone credit than invest $50 a month in a home insurance plan.
“This is a matter that we need to have a national conversation about because it pains me when I see the number of fundraising activities that I see as a politician for individuals to get themselves back on their feet as a result of a house fire.
“You know in that fire, the expensive flat screen television was destroyed, the cell phone that you are paying perhaps $150 per month in top ups is also destroyed, the expensive shoes and bags are burnt. You then have to ask yourself, ‘could you not have budgeted $30 or $50 per month to help pay for your house insurance?’” Inniss asked.
He also said based on the frequency of reported house fires this year alone, he was surprised that persons still maintained the ancient mindset that home insurance was a waste of time.
“There perhaps is a mindset which says that insurance is a waste of money. So I urge you, the General Insurance Association of Barbados to join with Government and let us mount a national conversation about the importance of insuring homes in Barbados because it is not an expensive thing. I know those who hear my voice are crying out about where they are going to get the money from, but every household in Barbados can search and make a little adjustment to ensure that they cover their property,” Inniss argued.