By D. Cambridge (Teacher)

Dear Prime Minister,

In the closing of the article entitled “PM rejects union’s claim that he was avoiding lawsuit”, published by iWitness news on Nov. 16, 2017,

I wish to draw attention to the quote in the closing paragraph of the article “PM rejects Union claim that he was avoiding lawsuit”, published by iWitness news on Nov. 16, 2017. In that paragraph, you are quoted as saying, “I don’t want to sound self-righteous about this, but believe me when I tell you and you will see the record of this government. I am interested in the welfare of teachers and I continue to be and I look for ways and means of helping.” I do have confidence that this is so and, therefore, wish to draw your attention to one aspect in which you can be of further support to teachers. That is, the issue of personal transportation.

Some of us as teachers face major challenges when it comes to transportation to and from work. We travel in cramped vans, which many times are only willing to lower their music for a minute or two in order to allow a passenger to take a telephone call. While we endure such in the morning, it becomes doubly stressful after a day in the classroom where we often multitask filling roles as teachers, counsellors, psychologists, parents and more.

At times, this involves spending extra time or sacrificing a portion of lunch in order to provide further assistance to the slow or weaker student(s). At departure time after a day’s work, we are again faced with loud music when all that is desired is a moment of peace and quiet. For some of us, because of distance and the way transport works, it means getting home late evening, to be ready for the new workday. Occasionally, some of us, depending on the location of our residences, benefit from the quiet of a school bus on the way home as students may select other means of travel. However, without having a child to take to school, such courtesies are not generally available in the morning as such provision was not established for teachers, nor is there a particular way to identify a teacher.

I am hereby requesting your intervention to make duty concessions for teachers wishing to import used vehicles in order to reduce the daily excess stress and financial burden of a full loan, whether it is duty-free concession or even a 50 per cent waiver of import duty. This is in view of the fact that many of us require loans in order to make the initial purchase. Even a trained teacher who is appointed a teacher III position, requires such help, as you are quite aware; while such may be beyond the reach of a teacher I and II. Quoting from the same article, “He said that the top of the scale for a Grade III teacher would overlap with the bottom of the scale for a graduate teacher”. Such provision can even have set conditions such as being an incentive to encourage more in the system to become ‘trained’ teachers in addition to only focusing on being graduates.

This request is certainly reasonable as we consider the role of the teacher in relation to the education of the nation’s children. Looking at the custom and excise regulation in relation to senior public servants, they are considered; though in a far better financial position over most teachers.

  1. Senior Public Servants

An officer who has been permanently appointed to a post in Grades B1 (13) and above; or has been acting in these grades for a continuing period of two (2) or more years are eligible for seventy-five (75) percent waiver of import duty and excise and Value Added Tax (VAT) on a motor car or jeep of 3000cc or less. This concession also applies to contractual and temporary appointments in Grade B1 held for a continuous period of five (5) years and over, as well as Managers of Statutory Corporations who receive benefits and pay scales in line with grade B1(13) of the Civil Service. The vehicle must be owned by the officer and registered in his/her name.

I again appeal to you, since you have the interest of teachers at heart to assist teachers in better being able to accomplish their duties to the full; by affording us the opportunity to ease the stresses of the transportation system, through some form of duty concession.

The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to news.iwitness@gmail.com

The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to news.iwitness@gmail.com.