LPGs cylinder and other debris are deposited outside a house in Cane Grove. Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves has called for generosity in the distribution of disaster relief. (IWN photo)

Those distributing relief items to persons affected by the Christmas Eve trough system are being told that it is better for persons not affected by the disaster to benefit from relief that for those affected not receive.

“I have told Howie Prince [director of the National Emergency Management Organisation – NEMO] something I see has seeped into the relief effort: too many persons who are involved spend too much time on saying that this group of people taking advantage of the disaster and they shouldn’t be getting this, they shouldn’t be getting that,” Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves said at a press conference on Monday.

(Read also: Fridges, stove, mattresses to be provided to victims of Christmas floods)

Gonsalves said that some public servants spend “a disproportionate amount of time” in denying some people.

“So, if 100 persons supposed to get and 20 not supposed to get, you spend so much time that none of the 20 who coming to get, gets something, you’d be so miserly that 50 out of who supposed to get ain’t get, because you spend so much time preoccupying yourself with a few people who many be swept in, so to speak, with the general relief effort, who, so to speak, haven’t quote-unquote suffered,” Gonsalves said.

“Well, those persons are also in the same vulnerable area, and they are also vulnerable or poor. So what are you going to penny-pinch about with that?” he further said.

“And I want the guiding principle that we must err on the side of generosity and love. That is the side I want us to err on, and not err on the side of being miserly. That is not the spirit of this government and that is not the spirit in which people who are giving us would expect to respond. So I just want to say that as a principle of operation and I hope all the public servants hear me on this,” Gonsalves said.

Nine persons died, while three are missing as a result of floods and landslides triggered by the trough system.

Some 495 houses have been damages, 14 bridges destroyed and 14 damaged, in addition to other damage to public infrastructure, including the road network, Gonsalves told the press conference.

3 replies on “PM tells public servants not to ‘penny-pinch’ disaster relief”

  1. The road network was already destroyed by lack of maintenance by this government, most side roads and feeder roads were already destroyed. Lets not jump on the wagon and try and get more than what we started with. That’s just typical Marxist behaviour. Most of the bridges were pre-damaged by allowing trucks of such a grand size to use bridges designed and built for donkeys and pack mules and the occasional pony and gig. Then by trees and logs that this government failed to remove from rivers, despite many warnings of the consequences.

    We cannot expect to rebuild 15 years of neglect from one tragic event, its indecent. The important thing is to help people replace their homes, build new homes away from the flood plain and the areas that will be later claimed by sea surge.

    I know that fridges, stoves and mattress are being given, not by the government, but they will claim they are from them , but by our friends in the Diaspora. This government are not the cause of the whole tragedy, but they are major contributors in making things far worse.

  2. Urlan Alexander says:

    Could someone please tell me where these 495 houses are located? While the country suffered badly especially infrastructure such as roads and bridges the housing damages are far far less than 100 much less to 495. While many persons lost their belongings due to damages caused by flood waters, the housing stock stood the flood water well and only a few houses will have to be repaired and rebuilt. North Leeward and South Leeward that got the brunt of the housing damages have less than 20 houses that were severely damaged. There are many homes that were flooded but people are cleaning up with the intention of going back into their homes. Some have even gone back to their homes. So my question is who gave the PM this figure? Is this number deliberately and wickedly inflated so that government can use the disaster as a campaign stunt like they did in the aftermath of Hurricane Tomas? Is the PM going to exploit the occasion like he did in 2010? He must remember that people lost their lives and to be using this occasion to lie and for political reasons is very unbecoming even for Ralph Gonsalves.

  3. The problem I find with his statement is it give license to government aid workers, in fact instructs those people to give to anyone, not just the people who have lost. It’s a confirmation that they can give to whoever they want., whatever they want.

    I suppose when the ULP regime are accused of giving to ULP supporters but not to NDP, or giving to people without damage or loss, he can say it was them they didn’t pinch pennies, they couldn’t waste time on sorting the grain from the chaff.

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