January 7, 2014
Free appliances for flood victims; no jail for non-payment

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves has given the assurance that persons who lost furnishings and appliances during the Christmas disaster will not be taken to court for non-payment.{{more}}

During a press conference yesterday at Cabinet Room, the Prime Minister disclosed that he had spoken to the four major distributors of furniture and furnishings (Finishing and Furnishing, Courts, Y De Lima, Singer), and they assured him that persons who purchased items on hire purchase and had been affected by the Christmas disaster would not be taken to court.

He said that even if they were brought before the court, he would ensure that they would not see jail time.

“I called these four agencies to address this question, and they agreed that they are not going to be able to put anybody in court,” Gonsalves said.

“First of all, you don’t have any fridge or stove to repossess; they are not going to pay you; these are poor and vulnerable people, you going to put them in court?

“…The magistrate gives judgement; they don’t pay; in a natural disaster anybody is going to send anybody to prison for a debt? Well, I tell you this: none of the enterprises say they will take anybody to court, but I will say this in advance: anybody who is sued in the court for any appliance or anything which is destroyed during this storm and they reach the stage of a committal warrant, that person won’t serve prison, because I, as chairman of the Mercy Committee, will make sure that the person doesn’t serve prison.”

Gonsalves had earlier indicated that all persons who lost stoves and refrigerators during the rains and flooding would have these items replaced free of cost; more than 1,000 mattresses are also being made available for those whose beds were damaged.

These items, he said, will be donated by an individual who heads an international company.

“I have a donor; I would not tell you the name of the donor today, who will give a fridge and a stove for each of the families affected in the storm in this natural disaster, and we will give up to 1,000 mattresses from this particular source.

“Minister (Julian) Francis is going to be in charge of the operation in relation to the fridges, the stoves, the mattresses… and I’ve asked him to select two public servants, and I will get the chief personnel officer to assign them and coordinate with the director of NEMO….”

The Prime Minister also indicated that along with the 200 mattresses already distributed by NEMO, a foreign based construction company, Edge Hill had also pledged a further 200 mattresses, as well as $20,000.

“I know that some families have lost televisions and DVDs, but I have to deal with fridges and stoves and mattresses…. The children who have lost their computers, I am trying to see how I can address that question, and that is a weight on my mind; it might well be as many as two, three hundred,” Gonsalves said.(JJ)