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PM condemns wealthy owners who rushed to lay off staff : Where’s your heart ... your compassion ... your soul?

Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis speaks on Sunday afternoon.

Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis speaks on Sunday afternoon.

By KHRISNA RUSSELL

Deputy Chief Reporter

krussell@tribunemedia.net

PRIME Minister Dr Hubert Minnis criticised wealthy business owners who have laid off long-term staff due to the COVID-19 economic fall out, questioning if they have a heart or soul.

In his first public passionate plea to the business community yesterday, the prime minister said he was disappointed that companies had been laying off workers who made them wealthy despite employees’ loyalty. Such actions he said were taking “advantage of” the workforce.

“I want to make a very strong plea to business owners who are in a strong financial position to do so, to hold off from laying off employees for as long as possible,” Dr Minnis said during a nationally televised press conference. “Such generosity of spirit will make a tremendous difference at this time.”

He later voiced disappointment in the wave of layoffs that have come during the pandemic. “I am extremely disappointed when I see Bahamian companies laying off individuals who had worked with them 10, 20 years.

“(Employees) who had made them wealthy; who had given them the opportunity to send their children to university both here and abroad; who have given them opportunities for their children to become professionals and leaders in this country; who have given them opportunity to live in lavish homes and have great lives - individuals (and) Bahamians who are from humble beginnings but who have made sacrifices to make fellow Bahamians wealthy and living good.

“Yet after all the sacrifices these Bahamians did, those who have attained wealth have laid off such Bahamians. I ask you, are you humane? Where is your heart? Where is your compassion? Do you have a soul?”

He continued: “Please let’s be humane and consider those individuals who have made great sacrifices to make you what you are today, but as soon as things get tough you want to retain and hold on to all you’ve got and continue to take advantage of individuals.

“I plead and I ask all Bahamians today, please let us not be human beings but let us be humane. I ask you where is your heart or do you have a heart?”

Massive layoffs have caused a greater reliance on the National Insurance Board.

As of Friday, NIB processed more than 14,000 unemployment claims, Dr Minnis said. NIB has paid out around $7m in this category, he said, with an additional 5,000 applications being worked on. NIB has also processed 5,592 self-employment applications, he said, with $1.96m paid out in this category. Collectively, NIB has processed and approved more than 18,000 applications and paid out just under $9m, he said.

“Payments are still being processed for many additional workers across different employment categories. I can assure you that NIB is using innovative approaches, including working with employers to help to speed up the process,” Dr Minnis said.

“Last week, NIB had to appeal to some employers – both large and small – to comply with document requests, as this is causing some delay in payments to eligible workers. However, to date, NIB has received a positive response from companies, which is helping to move many more payments along.”

Self-employed workers are not normally eligible for NIB unemployment benefit payments, the prime minister said.

“NIB is an insurance scheme and the normal rules associated with benefit payments apply. In light of this, NIB is also administering the government’s special unemployment assistance programme for self-employed workers.”

He said this was giving thousands of Bahamians, who ordinarily are not able to claim benefits, paycheck support for an eight-week period.

Comments

Chucky 4 years, 1 month ago

“(Employees) who had made them wealthy; who had given them the opportunity to send their children to university both here and abroad; who have given them opportunities for their children to become professionals and leaders in this country; who have given them opportunity to live in lavish homes and have great lives - individuals (and) Bahamians who are from humble beginnings but who have made sacrifices to make fellow Bahamians wealthy and living good.

“Yet after all the sacrifices these Bahamians did, those who have attained wealth have laid off such Bahamians. I ask you, are you humane? Where is your heart? Where is your compassion? Do you have a soul?”

That is what it is to be wealthy! There is no “humanity” in capitalism, their is only “capital”.

It’s as much as they can get for as little as they have to do!

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Well_mudda_take_sic 4 years, 1 month ago

Many small and medium size businesses either went or were about to go 'belly up' under the outrageously high and burdensome taxes and fees, not to mention the many much more onerous regulations, imposed on them since the Minnis-led government took the reigns of governing. Since May 2017 the owners of these businesses have been crying out to Minnis that their employees and their customers alike (in fact all Bahamians) were suffering terribly under the crushing weight of the enormous increases in business costs and the cost of living generally. And all of this was well before Hurricane Dorian and the Red China Virus came along. Naturally, the questions now being loudly put by the Bahamian people to Minnis are:

"Are you humane? Where is your heart? Where is your compassion? Do you have a soul?”

Minnis really needs to take a good hard look at himself in the mirror, and I don't mean the one sided one he's obviously grown accustomed to looking at. Minnis as PM and Turnquest as DPM have lent new meaning to the devastating consequences of governing by spending, taxing and borrowing alone. Now is certainly not the time for them to double-down on the stupidity of their past mistakes. They need to cut our grossly over-bloated government payroll in a very meaningful way, and they're only going to get one chance of a big bite at that enchilada to try and save our country from financial ruination. And to make those cuts more politically palatable, they're gonna have to at the same time impose a whopping one-off wealth tax on all Bahamians who have a net worth in excess of $5 million.

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stislez 4 years, 1 month ago

How much years national insurance been taking money from us and never giving us back anything? Personally, i hear what the pm is saying but rich folks aint rich cuz they have a heart and compassion, just read the 1st comment. National Insurance is the main culprit here. Just like all working Bahamians, All my life national insurance been taking out money, where is all of it? Nation Insurance should have enough money to do what usa do, give erryone $1200 or more! Pm talking bout people making these companies rich then getting laid off. What about the woman who was paying national insurance all her life, got injured and cant go back to work? She aint reach retirement age yet an all yall gone give her is half her pay for 7-12 weeks or some shit! She 55 years old and been paying national insurance from she started working at 16 years old. You tell me if thats fair.....

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K4C 4 years, 1 month ago

Asking for a old friend, anyone else miss the old BAY STREET BOYS ?

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K4C 4 years, 1 month ago

just as I thought

'Lead on Macduff'

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K4C 4 years ago

what is you want ?

abject poverty ?

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Clamshell 4 years, 1 month ago

Easy for him to say — the government remains open, and he and everybody else continues to draw a salary because the government is still collecting VAT, property taxes, endless fees, etc., etc. Yet he expects a business owner to keep paying employees while taking in NO revenue at all. Because, hey, ya gotta have “heart.”

You wanna see who has a “heart, compassion and a soul,” Mr. Prime Minister? Suspend all government taxes and fees and see how long you can keep paying government employees — and yourself. Put your money where your mouth is.

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Hoda 4 years, 1 month ago

I believe the only people who would be claiming if govt employees/civil servants salaries were cut are the unionized govt employees as the union bosses have already started up with their threats. Yall acting like no one is getting assistance from thr govt, like people havent been getting assistance from Dorian til now. It might take a while. The govt employees a substantial percentage of the population, that would be a very serious thing if public servants stop spending money.

I think the help people need is relief from mortgage and loan debt, so maybe we need to direct this heat at banks and money lenders, cause i mean lets be real social assistance can only go so far, the aim is to give everyone a little something, not pay our mortgages, loans, bills.

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tetelestai 4 years ago

So your solution is to lay off civil servant staff, who will then be on the unemployment/NIB line in any event? You do realize that the money comes from the same place, right (consolidated fund - yes, I am aware that NIB is supposed to be separate)? Never understand this argument to lay off civil service staff. It does not solve the issue. Economics 101.
I do agree that certain highly paid PEP civil servants (ahem, cough cough Marlon Johnson) should take a cut. But the rank and file civil servant...stop it!)

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jackbnimble 4 years, 1 month ago

This statement is coming from a Government who spent its first year in office firing thousands of Government workers. Where was the compassion they had? Yet so-called ‘wealthy’ people are supposed to keep paying staff to stay home doing nothing? It doesn’t make sense. Who goes into business to lose money. Business is for profit so if your overhead is high (I.e. in paying out salaries for work not being done your bottom line is clearly going to be affected.

I think they are finally starting to feel the pinch at NIB. NIB has been used as a slush fund by successive governments who wasted it constructing many Government buildings which never maintained, paying it out through inflated contacts to family friends and lovers and let’s not forget how that Cargill fella who ran it paid himself and his board members at the time hefty bonuses. Now it’s time to pay the laid off workers who have contributed and the money has to be found.

Additionally let’s not forget that this same Government has been taxing us up the yong yang by increasing VAT. Where are millions collected in VAT. It can no longer be channeled to family friends and lovers. It has to be paid back to the people in benefits.

Suck it up buttercup!!! iTS THE PEOPLE’S TIME!!!

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Well_mudda_take_sic 4 years, 1 month ago

@jackbnimble: Your first sentence fails to recognize that only the temporary government employees hired by crooked Christie-led PLP governmment in its campaign run up to the May 2017 general election were laid-off by the incoming Minnis administration. Those temporary employees were hired by the Christie administartion with the agreed understanding that they would cast their vote for the PLP. They were in effect PLP votes bought by crooked Christie using taxpayer funds and therefore fully deserved to be laid-off, even though many of them ended up supporting the FNM rather than the PLP. But the so called 'permanent' government employee head count has actually greatly increased since Minnis took office, including the padded head counts at the government corporations and government controlled SPVs. The 60% increase in VAT that occurred shortly after the May 2017 general election was not used as promised by the Minnis-led FNM government to reduce the size of our national debt but rather to increase the size of the government's 'permanent' employee head count in the hope of growing the loyal base of FNM supporters.

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ace1 4 years, 1 month ago

I don t know about Nassau and the Out islands but things have been tough for the past 4 years with hurricanes and closure of the main hotels in Grand Bahama. I can't speak for other people but I can speak for myself that this latest disaster is THE STRAW THAT BROKE THE CAMELS BACK

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hrysippus 4 years, 1 month ago

What sacrifices exactly is the doctor referencing that these employees have spent years making? Is it the sacrifice of getting up in the morning to go to work and get paid for it? All these businesses have, or should have, paid 5.5% of every employers wage every month every year to nib so that nib would have funds to pay the employees pension, sickness, and unemployment benefits. The employees themselves have paid a further 3.3% of their wage to nib tax. Successive administrations have squandered this money; and that is the true face of heartlessness in this situation. A cheap political shot which will probably come back to haunt them during their next round of electoral fundraising. They not getting nothing from me this time around.

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regrolli 4 years, 1 month ago

Trying to shame business owners into commercial suicide isn’t a rabbit hole you want to go down. Go away and rethink.

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Dawes 4 years, 1 month ago

I take it the PM does not want all these businesses to be around whenever the country finally opens up. These businesses are making decisions today so that they can open when allowed and re-hire their employees. Everybody knows that whenever this country opens things will not be the same as before, as their are no tourists. This means businesses know they will be seeing greatly reduced sales for a while, which will make it harder to be in business. The PM did what all politicians have done, to take away from their great failures they try and get the population to blame others. Maybe Government should say if these companies keep their people employed even though they are home they can allocate the salary against any fees due to Government (VAT, Business License, duty etc). But i highly doubt that.

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DDK 4 years, 1 month ago

This PM has nerve, if not common sense, especially business sense. He needs to let businesses operate before they go under and NEVER pay their staff again. Perhaps the PM and crew should donate their annual salaries to the cause.

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hj 4 years, 1 month ago

Unlike governments private businesses don't have the luxury of taxing people so they can keep others to the payroll. Doc will do a better service to his country at this moment of he does something about the large number of civil servants who are currently "working from home".

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Clamshell 4 years, 1 month ago

I keep wondering how a Road Traffic clerk or a Customs agent is “working from home” ... and drawing a paycheck.

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hj 4 years, 1 month ago

You should see what is going on to other departments as well. Even for import/export businesses that are supposed to be open,and at least keep a small part of the economy moving, try to find a government employee for the necessary paperwork. They are all , "working from home" and of course nothing can be done.

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happyfly 4 years, 1 month ago

read this and then ask yourself if it's about that time the government would want to start blaming the economic crisis they mistakenly dove in to - blame it on the rich that is

https://swprs.org/a-swiss-doctor-on-c...">https://swprs.org/a-swiss-doctor-on-c...

We don't need to blame anyone. We don't need the government to save face. We need to open our eyes to the emerging facts, open the economy back up and get on with our lives and learn from the stupendous mistakes that were made.

Learn how to manage our health and fear of dying in a way that we don't panic and throw away our humanity without even thinking about it

God Bless the Bahamas

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ThisIsOurs 4 years, 1 month ago

"According to leading lung specialists, invasive ventilation of Covid19 patients is often counterproductive and causes additional damage to the lungs. The invasive ventilation of Covid19 patients is partly done out of fear of spreading the virus through aerosols."

I don't know the legitimacy of the swiss-doctor source but this has been my theory all along. Having heard stories of botched ventilations, I speculated that quite a number of these covid died because of lack of knowledge.

Some patients could have died because of health workers who never needed to be trained to use a ventilator as part of regular job function but who were forced into the "medical army" as accidental experts.

In addition to that, some health workers who were "supposed" to know how to use ventilators but were simply incompetent and never exposed.

The lucky few would have been treated by competent trained ICU professionals

I believe these 2 factors contributed to the large number of deaths. Again they're theories.

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Honestman 4 years, 1 month ago

As if the private sector has not been taxed enough these last years. Now it has to incur a "compassion tax" in addition!!!!

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birdiestrachan 4 years, 1 month ago

The pot calling the kettle black. What he is accusing others off is him and his Cabinet 9.000 and 12.000 per month for rent. the office of the spouse and 10.000 just for tea.

People go into business to make money. it is a give and take no one doing the other any favors.

Governments are elected to make the lives of their citizens better. The FNM Government has made the lives of their Citizens harder.

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TalRussell 4 years, 1 month ago

You'd think a likewise businessman with known declared Net Worth of $13 million would've been smart enough want act more sheepish with spending other comrade person's monies?
Likewise If not mistaken the minimum declared Net Worth the individual 35 elected to House red MP's is $1 million.... with others ranging from in the $3 million to $600 million range yet neither, including the First among equals, have acted nobly by taking a pay cut, nor gave up their government-supplied cars, chauffeurs, security details, pensions, medical coverage, expense accounts, perks?
Being in or venturing into business has never been more dangerous one's freedom, as successful comrade business owners are increasingly portrayed as enemies the PopoulacesOrdinary aka the government.
The red regime.has taken a similar attitude to target journalists and those taking to social media and town hall meetings to call out the government's growing arrogance, truth avoidance, policy inconsistencies, lack planning, promises breakers, over taxation and overborrowing, political favoritism, flipflops, and blunders. Can't just make this up if not true, just, can't. Nod once for yeah, twice for no?

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jamani2 4 years, 1 month ago

The prime minister is absolutely 100% right! In times like these we all need to make sacrifices, if you are a Bahamian. And what is true for regular Bahamians is also true of wealthy ones.

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TalRussell 4 years, 1 month ago

You're Jammin good ma comrade for your PM, aren't' you? How much over $14 million Net Worth qualifies before businessman is starting giving back?

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The_Oracle 4 years ago

A few mistakes: First, he went off script. Second, he spoke in anger. third, he obviously knows nothing about business. While there are bad apples and opportunists in the private sector, they by no means have a exclusivity on it. Foreign payables is a businesses largest overhead if it is an importer. Government is the second largest revenue earner via taxes. Staff payroll is third largest. Power Co is 4th. If you don't pay your vendors, local and foreign, you are finished. You have to pay government its taxes, unless you are politically exempted. Staff don't work for free. zero income means no cash flow. None of these "layoffs " are supposed to be permanent. Everyone is taking a hit in this situation, pray most of your businesses hold some reserves to re-open and resume operations. A national address was not the place to pander to ignorance or target any sector of your economy.

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jamani2 4 years ago

Shared sacrifice! That's all.

To whom much is given, much is expected in return.

This is not about politics. I can care less about red or gold.

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ohdrap4 4 years ago

Tell that to the MPS.

Minnis and others in cabinet are millionaires who do not even take a cut in pay.

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Bahamianbychoice 4 years ago

I find this message disingenuous. The Prime Minister is a wealthy man and owns shares in many companies. This is just political rhetoric to deflect the frustration of the masses away from him.

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jamani2 4 years ago

You know this for a fact? Let's let God be the judge. Now, you and I have our opinions. However, It makes no sense playing politics in times like these, my friend.

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Bahamianbychoice 4 years ago

I totally agree. We can agree to disagree and still be respectful. I did not mean my comment with any political innuendos so I apologize if that came across. In saying this, we must be honest at these times which includes recognizing when political maneuvering is happening as you are very correct this is not a time to play politics.

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DEDDIE 4 years ago

Survive today so you can be alive for tomorrow. Surviving today sometimes requires you to prune some branches. Paying people who are not working is tough for any business especially when the VAT Office send a notice indicating that VAT is due tomorrow.

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Bonefishpete 4 years ago

Shame them today, nationalize them tomorrow.

"My mind is clearer now - at last all too well. I can see where we all soon will be. If you strip away the myth from the man. You will see where we all soon will be."

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BillFotsch 4 years ago

We have a similar problem in the US, with companies laying off employees. It is not in their shareholders best interest. Take a look at the value of companies emerging from a crisis who did not lay off employees. Southwest Airlines is a great example. Southwest avoided layoffs, when Braniff and Texas Air created a price war, or during 9/11, or during the 2008 financial crisis. In every case, they soared past their competition in stock value, market share and employee loyalty. They treat their employees as trusted partners, understanding, driving and participating in the profitable growth of the company. This strategy is not only more humane; it is also more successful. These Forbes and Harvard Business Review articles provide more background: https://hbr.org/2018/01/more-than-a-p...">https://hbr.org/2018/01/more-than-a-p... http://www.forbes.com/sites/fotschcas...">http://www.forbes.com/sites/fotschcas...

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