The pandemic crisis is not yet over but retailers are chasing down householders to pay their bills, former social transformation minister Hamilton Lashley has said, pleading for sympathy with the plight of those made jobless by the COVID-19 environment.
Since a three-month moratorium ended in June, many people are being threatened that the bailiff may come knocking on their doors any day now, Lashley told Barbados TODAY.
He said he has been receiving complaints, mainly from women heading large households, that they are being pressured to settle their debts, or face the consequences.
Lashley said that while he fully understands the legal obligation to repay debt, he believes that the managers should understand that given the significant job cuts caused by the pandemic, many people are struggling to make ends meet.
He also pleaded with landlords to work with newly unemployed tenants who are finding it difficult to pay rent.
The former St Michael South East MP said that rather than businesses harassing those who owe them, but are unable to pay them at this time, they should meet with the debtors and find proactive solutions that would benefit all parties involved.
Lashley said: “I find it very insensitive. Nobody is saying that people are not to pay their dues, but the thing about it is that this is a special time and special considerations should be given to those who are struggling.
“Of course an extended moratorium should be extended to them and I believe that those that are struggling should be asked to come in and make new arrangements, rather than having them suffer the psychological drama, and in some cases disorientation after being threatened to have their debts paid before the marshals and the bailiffs and eventually the law courts get involved. In these COVID-19 times special considerations should be given to the new normal that we are facing.”
The social activist said a new approach is needed to deal with the marginalized and disenfranchised during the pandemic. He expressed concern about a devastating rippling effect on disadvantaged communities across the country.
He urged the private sector and Welfare Department work together to assist people who are receiving cash assistance from Government.
Lashley told Barbados TODAY: “I believe that a tripartite relationship could be worked out between the private sector, Government, and certainly those persons that have been affected in these categories by the pandemic. When one looks at the fact that you have a great number of hotel workers affected and impacted very negatively, then this consideration should be given.
“I think the very last resort should be having people going before the law court because it is not going to serve any good, rather than further traumatize families. So I am saying that special considerations must be given rather than harassment they need to simply sit down and work out proactive approaches to avert this kind of mental stress.” [email protected]
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