Tuesday 22 September, 2020

Bajans say: Barbados is too expensive, need more leave to have babies

Barbadians may comply with the appeal to have more children if support would be provided financially and legislatively.

On Twitter, 'Babies don't eat grass' and 'Who taking care of these babies?' were the two biggest arguments.

This was the outcry of many Barbadians after Prime Minister Mia Mottley on May 14, highlighted that Barbados' birth rate was nowhere near where it should be ideally and in light of this fact, there could be some troublesome times looming ahead. 

Without begging her citizens to have more babies outrightly, Mottley said:

"We are going to have to take urgent action because if we were simply to have kept replacing our population from 1980, Barbados would have 360,000 people today instead of [the] 280,000-odd that we have.

"It gets worst because it also means that regrettably, our workforce will actually be smaller by the year 2035. In less than 15 years, we will have a declining workforce that cannot sustain the production of goods and services or indeed the revenue to be able to guarantee the quality of life that we already have." 

The island's birth and fertility rates have continuously declined since the 1960s, reaching below replacement levels in the 1980s. The country's aged population has become a cause of concern, as the declined labour force will burden the National Insurance Scheme (NIS).

In light of her comments as the country faces an almost 40 per cent unemployment rate in light of COVID-19, the country responded on social media.

On Loop's Instagram, the most popular response garnering 60 likes was, 'Are you providing these women with cheques when they become pregnant? *sad face emoji*' 

Also going along that same vein pleading for support or assistance for mothers and families if this is to become a reality, someone wrote: 'aunty mia yah is mah girl and everything but may I respectfully ask who gine be supporting these babies in these hard economical time'. This response garnered two replies:

'she's my girl too but I here trying to figure out who gine help with these more babies 🤔. What she's saying is true but who helping us now in these ratchet times lol'

'exactly we already catching our tails all the lay offs and now COVID it's gonna be a long time before ppl can think about baby making'

Another wrote: 'Bim is too expensive and too much [sic] taxes and salaries too small to facilitate the making of babies. I am trying hard not to make any babies at my age right now lollll'

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Meanwhile, some said that they can ignore this call by the country's leader contending that the plea for procreation was being issued to a certain calibre of person, one whose pay could ably support a child or children. "She's talking to the high society ppl...wunna ca chill"

But one follower made the point that ease financially may be all that's needed to convince some citizens: "It'd help if baby stuff weren't taxed". He didn't need a handout or cheque per se.

And beyond the point of conceiving and providing for the child financially and in terms of material needs, others made the case for mother-child, father-child bonding after delivery, calling for attention to be paid to the maternity leave law first.

"6-9 months maternity leave, a cheque each MO [monthly]"

"let’s think bigger and long term first with a much longer maternity and paternity leave, then work our way down the line."

Howevver, one reader brought a different spin on the argument saying: "What annoys me most is the government officials keep saying get more children but after the women get the child in the hospital the doctors keep pressuring the women especially young mothers to go on BIRTH CONTROLS" 

And on the flip side, after seven to eight weeks on lockdown or having been laid off for three months in some cases since Barbados reported its first two cases of COVID-19 on March 17, two persons said: "I'm sure this virus helped that. Wait 9 months and come back to the table" and "I think the lockdown enough to stimulate population growth in 15 years."

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