Oct 01, 2020 News
With the number of COVID-19 deaths climbing each day, the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) yesterday blasted the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) government for its approach to combat the disease.
At a press conference yesterday, Opposition Member of Parliament (MP), Dr. Karen Cummings, said that since assuming office, the PPP/C government seems to have no definitive plan or strategy on how to manage the COVID-19 pandemic effectively.
An error on its part, she added, was the immediate move to “abandon” the strategic plan left in place by the previous administration.
According to Dr. Cummings, the Coalition, while in government, had recognized the need for the inclusive involvement of all stakeholders to combat the disease but even this plan, the PPP/C did not heed.
“Their lack of foresight and inability to govern has resulted in an uptick in positive cases and the skyrocketing of deaths,” the MP said, adding that such an abject failure to address COVID-19 “has proven to be a disaster for the country.”
Turning her attention to frontline workers, Dr. Cummings expressed concern about them not being able to access the necessary protective equipment to properly execute their duties.
She also mentioned the failure of government to provide frontline workers with risk allowances to compensate them for their extended periods of work and tireless efforts.
“This lack of appreciation shown by the PPP/C for the health care providers has zapped the energy of this workforce and shows a government out of touch with the daily realities on the ground,” the MP said.
Further, Dr. Cummings, a former Junior Health Minister, pointed to the 2020 Budget which she said is void of fiscal support for an adequate response to the pandemic.
According to Cummings, “There is no provision to create incentives for health workers to continually risk their lives to protect the health of this nation. There is no provision for public behaviour change programmes that combat the spread of COVID-19. There is no provision to continue and even ramp-up training of new healthcare workers.”
MP Tabitha Sarabo-Halley, who was also present at the briefing, noted that as the previous Public Service Minister, she spearheaded the implementation of a “Public Administration Work Scheme.” This, she said, was focused on several measures including staff rotation, work from home, appointment scheduling and use of a government portal to allow persons to continue to have access to government services, despite the reduction of in-person interactions.
Such a plan produced positive results, she said, adding that just after one month, despite staff not being physically present, they were “significantly more productive.”
Added to this was the rotation system for public servants, which she said, only required 50 percent of staff in office at any given time.
But that system was scrapped by the government when it took office, Sarabo-Halley said. This, she added, shows a perfect example of how ill-prepared the government is to handle the pandemic.
With this in mind, the Opposition MPs urged government to immediately take decisive to stem the tide and contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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