Member of Parliament for Moruga/Tableland Michelle Benjamin says statements made by Minister of Sport Shamfa Cudjoe following the budget are "unfortunate, unbelievable and uncouth."
The following is a press release from MP Benjamin:
Just a few adjectives to describe the cold and callous statements made by the Minister of Sport and Community Development Shamfa Cudjoe yesterday at the opening of the Tacarigua Community Centre.
The headline of the article is entitled “Shamfa Cries Shame,” but it is with a ‘crying shame’ that this Cabinet Member simply does not understand the remit of her portfolio which is to uplift citizens who contribute to their communities, especially those who contribute freely, for no financial gain, but out of the goodness of their heart.
Minister Cudjoe, there are people who would have contributed to knitting the fabric of this country together and would not have received any financial remuneration for it. They did it out of love for country. Does that mean their contribution is for nought?
Does that mean in their golden years their labour should be seen as a fledging thought? Then there are those, because of a myriad of circumstances, may not have been able be formally employed, but they toiled in other ways to provide for their families.
The Minister through her condescending words, has demonstrated that she is part of a government, that looks down on those people who are not part of the formal sector, who by virtue of their meaningful work to develop this country are not legible for a pension and as a result they, more than others, should be grateful that they are even being considered for a pension.
It is more than passing strange that a Minister for Community Development seems to be out of touch with the founding principles of community development in Trinidad and Tobago. We are all familiar with “gayap,” “sou sou,” where through these efforts of communal support, persons in the rural communities and towns across this country not only sustained their families but also helped build communities. The Minister should not look down on these citizens.
Is it that the minister is saying the homemakers, women who spent time building the family, building, and preparing the doctors and lawyers and teachers, and sporting personalities we have today, that they deserve less? They do not deserve a pension? If anything, they deserve more because if it were not for them, many of those who sit in positions of power and authority today would not have been where they are if it were not for their labour of love.
This is a clear indication of this Government’s disdain for the average, hardworking citizens and the true patriots of this country. Furthermore, the Minister is talking about sacrifice. While she may be able swipe her card and buy anything her heart desires, basic food items are beyond the reach for the average citizen because of the draconian policies of this Government, where the only plan is to make the rich get richer with nothing trickling down to the poor, except of course having to pay for their bad decisions.
Case in point, the closure of the refinery, the fifth price increase of fuel that we are burdened with today, lack of textbooks in schools, absence of CDAP medications in hospitals, run-down facilities at many schools, the poor road network that we are tasked to operate on, and the list goes on and on. Instead of talking down to citizens, the Minister for Sport and Community Development should come to the communities in our nation and experience first-hand the suffering of families who are suffering. The Minister owes it to the population to issue a clear and unequivocal apology.