IN countries ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic, governments came up with schemes to keep the economy breathing. It was more or less keeping the economy on a life-support system. The idea is to ensure people remain at work.
Our government too came up with one – $309 million of it. But instead of focusing on keeping the economy afloat, the focus shifted. Politicians saw the scheme as an opportunity to grab as much as they could.
Employees missed out altogether. Genuine applicants were simply ignored. Growing the economy took over when looking after existing companies should have been the top priority.
As it has been said repeatedly, growing kava and similar cash crops is the wrong approach. That is poignantly clear. We have not seen a change – except one – for the worse.
Do you know why the government has decided against releasing details of recipients? It will simply show the bulk of the payments have gone to MPs, particularly those on the government side so as to ensure no one loses his job.
Here’s a comparative analysis in terms of stimulus packages introduced in countries such as Australia, the United States, and Great Britain.
In all these countries, no politicians grabbed anything from the stimulus package. They simply voted in support to ensure employees remain in their jobs throughout the pandemic.
These politicians put the need of their nations and people first and foremost. They never invented companies overnight as our government had done to take advantage of a pool of money that is available.
Nor do they get their relatives or wantoks to apply. The money politicians approved was simply to pay employees, irrespective of their political allegiance. The money was procedurally and legally approved.
In our case, it was the wantok system that drives the ESP. It is public knowledge that several companies with links to government ministers were registered overnight to take advantage of the ESP.
And yet, to date, the entire ESP appropriation has never been approved by Parliament? Instead, the government simply uses the regulations of the State of Public Emergency to use the money. One wonders what is next?