Opposition Senator Caswell Franklyn is adamant that the unemployment figure in Barbados is over 30 per cent.
Speaking on the Remote Employment Amendment Bill, 2021 in the Senate today, Franklyn said despite lower unemployment figures being reported in sections of the media, he strongly believes that “it is over 30 percent”.
He said: “When you look at the amount of people that went home from tourism, unless the tourism industry is employing two or three per cent of the workforce in Barbados, that is the only way that we can have such low numbers in unemployment. We had a massive lay off in the tourism sector, so, our numbers could not be this low, I don’t care what nobody tells me.
“Unless you are saying they were off for too long so they are not looking for any jobs so we are not counting them. And then we have people in Barbados who are getting two and three days a week and they are working for 20 hours, 24 hours in an effort not to pay them severance pay because if you are working for less [than] your week’s wages you can claim for severance and unemployment benefits as well.”
The amendment bill which has been passed, allowed for the extension of the existing legislation governing the welcome stamp initiative which has been in place since last July. The Remote Employment Act 2020-2023 allows for the welcome stamp to be renewed for those persons who have been here for the past year.
Meanwhile, Franklyn, who was initially not sold on the welcome stamp visitors programme, admitted that due to these long stay visitors, he knows of at least three Barbadians who were on the breadline, now working at villas and other private homes.
Franklyn said: “I am happy that it has worked out. And I cannot say enough that the Government has done a good thing.”
However, Franklyn said that though the Government has been doing a good job attracting long-term visitors to the island, something must be done to address the crime situation on the island. He said almost every day he receives reports and messages about people being brutally assaulted and murdered.
The Opposition Senator said if not addressed, the crime situation can have a negative effect on Barbados’ overall tourism product and also on the welcome stamp initiative.
Franklyn said Government must put more resources into the Royal Barbados Police Force to allow officers to be proactive and increase their numbers on the roads to maintain law and order.
In fact, he said the force needs to recruit additional policemen on an attractive salary. He insisted that the force must also review its qualification requirements to allow more young people who may not have a sound education to be able to join.
“It is critical if we are going to maintain a good tourism product, we have to have safety in this country. Yes, you are going to have the odd fella doing things and you expect that. But we are not having odd now.
“It is odd when we don’t have crime, when we don’t have serious crime. And that is the problem we are having. People are bold and one time when you saw the police people used to run. Nobody ain’t running from the police now because his gun is bigger than the police gun,” said Senator Franklyn. (AH)