The poverty assessment report came out and it was amazing to see so many persons in denial of the truth. I am a Qualified Assistant Teacher (QAT) so I am presumed to be in the middle class and therefore in a better position than most. I have a family, a wife and two children and I also partially support my parents. Here is a snapshot of my life on my salary.
As a QAT, my gross salary at maximum is $3662.00 monthly as at August 30th 2020. From this the following items are deducted:
Personal Income tax – $491.60. at the end of the year I pay $5900.40 in tax. Almost two salaries.
NIS – $159.67. 00 I am slated to get back 60% of that on retirement but I must wait five years and not get what I paid.
Teachers union dues – $25.00 for union support and activities
Life insurance – $112.70. I have a mortgage and I need to secure my children’s future
Health insurance – $101.50 because of the sloppy health care we have
Teachers Union medical $5.00 to support my colleagues in times of medical need
Credit Union – $1544.00. $300.00 of this is savings the rest goes to my mortgage.
Credit Union -$265.00. A Christmas loan and $100.00 goes to savings.
At the end of the month $1017. 49 is deposited into the bank. From this I have to purchase food, pay bills, try to save an additional something and support my parents when I can. My parents are above 70 and none of them are on poor relief despite many attempts by me and others to get them on. On all my purchases I pay an additional 16% VAT. I also have to pay property tax and property insurance yearly. I do not own my own vehicle. I cannot afford it. Therefore, I have to set aside transportation costs for my children and myself.
My wife is currently out of a job. She used to work in the tourism service. She receives no support although we tried accessing the ‘supposed’ relief available. I make ends meet through side and holiday jobs. I applied for a loan PRYME loan to start up an online tutoring business. I never got a response. I provided all the evidence to support my $5000.00 loan but no response. My cousin 67 years old secured PRYME grant. I am 40.
I have also managed, without the any help from government to further my studies. I have to. I currently hold a master’s degree. The government does not pay for master’s degrees. The PM’s promised appointments of graduate teachers was a partial lie. Kisses go by favor. I and many like me who have been working extremely hard in the classroom are not favored. In fact, I have been waiting 3 years for my appointment as a graduate. I have a colleague who was just appointed and all she got was an allowance of $31.00 on her QAT salary. She has been waiting longer than me. Her taxes jumped to $500.90 as a result. I know several other colleagues who have no teacher training and less than five years in the classroom but they were appointed ahead of me and others. Their starting salaries at graduate is approximately $4200.00 monthly. They are being appointed through technicality, half the salary is paid as an allowance. Others are fully appointed as graduates.
Some teachers are being appointed at a lower scale than persons with a first degree no teaching pedagogy and little to no experience. It pays to get into teaching without knowing how to teach. Can you imagine that?! Whenever you query this you are met with all kinds of excuses. This cannot be fair or right. Many were appointed ahead of persons who were qualified years before them. I and others have to teach them how to make lesson plans, units and basic teaching pedagogy and classroom management strategies.
The ULP was supposed to be a labour government. I have had enough. I am tired of the promises, the lies, the lack of accountability and my personal stagnation. Look at the amount of taxes I have to pay with no relief. I lose almost two salaries in Personal income tax with no real benefit.
My salary is behind many of my Caribbean counterparts, who twenty years ago were behind me. It has not grown over the last twenty years, since each time I got an increase inflation and taxes absorbed it and more of my salary. I reaped nothing form the increases but I have lost from what I already have.
I am barely living above the poverty line. By international standards I am living in poverty. There are persons whose salaries are less than one fifth of mine. How are they making ends meet?
We support a government who seems more interested in growing the wealth of its cronies. My gross earnings is $43 944.00 a year. For comparison, burns Bonadie who should be retired earned $80 000.00 of tax payers’ money annually for two years (IWN article (2017)) on a “cacameme” contract with the government. He spends his entire day on a radio show. Glen Beache earns in excess of $100, 000.00 yet tourism has not seen any significant improvement from that investment. Road workers earn a mere $25-$35 dollars a day for two weeks about three times a year.
Many other countries had their ministers take some sort of salary adjustment to assist the less fortunate as Covid19 hit our shores. Our government continue to bleed the treasury for party hogs who need to go home. They sit on numerous boards collecting several salaries with no accountability or integrity legislation. Recent statements by the PM to the IMF indicates that further hardship is to come. His independence speech clearly outlines the mess we are already in. I am tired of this.
We need to move.