Sajjad Amin Bangash, Islamabad, Pakistan.
Gwenda Robets, Bangor, Gwynedd, Wales, UK.
Jude Collins, Dublin, Ireland.
Jeanette Saxby, Christchurch, New Zealand.
David McGuinness, North Lankashire, Scotland.
After the recent economic depression which hit and badly effected several economies of the world brought several socio-economic intricacies to the common citizens and affected badly the overall economic systems. On the political grounds, the political parties always try to gauge their political campaigns and manifesto geared towards addressing the core issues that relate to the welfare and well being of common citizens of their respective countries. But to what extend, the political parties have achieved success in bringing the economic prosperity, promoted the welfare of the citizens?
It’s very deep rooted question which needs broader range of answers. Time has changed now, people are now well aware of the current economical, political, religious, geo-political situations of the world and when it comes to getting to know the ground realities of the conditions of the overall economy, welfare of the people, the mainstream media is just seemed to be busy propagating the smaller pictures where on a larger context, they somehow seem trapped in covering the stories duly relayed to them at the macro level.
Now, to understand the lifestyle, economic conditions, the applications of austerity measures and their impact on the general people, the educational and medical care provision by the governments, you must ask the common citizens since, they are the direct recipients and they always tell the truth.
I drafted few of my questions and sent them to my friends in different countries through a social media and this is how the discussion goes.
1. Which party is in rule and who is the Prime Minister of your country?
Gwenda Roberts, Bangor, Wales, UK. Political Activist, Plaid Cymru, Wales, UK. Prime Minister Mr. David Cameron of Conservatives.
Jude Collins, Dublin, Ireland: My country is partitioned. The part of it I live in (six counties) is in the UK and the PM is David Cameron (Conservative) who is in coalition with the small party Lib Dems. In the other part (26 counties) the Taoiseach (=PM) is Enda Kenny of the Fine Gael party. He’s in coalition also with the small Labour Party.
Jeanette Saxby, Christchurch, New Zealand: In answer to the questionnaire which is really good by the way. Our prime minister is called John Key. He is the leader of the national party. He is in his third year term and is very popular with many people. (Not me).
David McGuinness, North Lankashire, Scotland: In Scotland, the Scottish national party (SNP) is in power
. 2. In your knowledge, what are primary and basic welfare provisions your current government is trying to focus on?
Gwenda Roberts, Bangor, Wales, UK: N.H.S, Housing Welfare system i.e. Right to buy houses for ordinary people with affordable monthly rent on lettings of houses and mortgages that people can afford.
Jude Collins, Dublin, Ireland: Both governments – UK and Irish – are hell-bent on cutting welfare and taxing the most vulnerable groups in society.
Jeanette Saxby, Christchurch, New Zealand: We have a good social welfare system in many ways. There are benefits for unemployed people, there are pensions for the elderly. Grants and financial assistance but all weekly amounts are still at a minimum wage level. As a government it is not doing so well in meeting the promises it made last election. There are very few jobs being created. There is a massive housing shortage in Auckland the largest city and in Christchurch my old home town, due to the earthquake and poorly managed rebuild.
David McGuinness, North Lankashire, Scotland. Health and childcare .
3. Do you think that education should be free and does your government able to provide free education to every child of your country?
Gwenda Roberts, Bangor, Wales, UK: Education and basic schooling should be free with more schools ready to open instead of closures. Higher education colleges such as universities should be scrapped of tuition and education fees completley with less young people being made out of debt altogether.
Jude Collins, Dublin, Ireland: Yes of course education should be free. It is in the 6 and 26 county jurisdictions; after that in the UK students must pay – average undergraduate ends with a debt of approx £40,000. In the 26 counties, education is free until university when fees are charged – high, but not as high as the UK.
Jeanette Saxby, Christchurch, New Zealand: Education is mostly free in New Zealand. We have some school fees but they are usually called a donation and are not compulsory . At high school there are books and uniforms and a fee for sitting the exams. At university level there are fees for each subject but those on a low income can get a student loan. We also have quite comprehensive preschool education which gives children from age 3 free preschool education for 20 hours a week.
David McGuinness, North Lankashire, Scotland: Education is free to all in Scotland all the way through including fully funded free Universities.
4. Talking about medical care and facilities, since a proper and effective medical care is very important for the welfare of the people of every country, do you think that an ordinary citizen is being provided dual medical care or not?
Gwenda Roberts, Bangor, Wales, UK: People are being neglected at ordinary wards here in Britain due to lack of beds in hospitals. Maternity wards like the current situation at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd of Bodelwyddan in North Walescould be facing closure, but this has been postponed or suspended for the next eighteen months due to staffing issues that have arised.
Jude Collins, Dublin, Ireland. In the 6 counties, medical care is free – but the pressure on the system through poor government provision and efforts to privatise it, the system is creaking badly and operating inefficiently. In the 26 counties, you pay for medical attention.
Jeanette Saxby, Christchurch, New Zealand: We are so lucky with our health care system. Most of all hospital care is free. A broken bone or an operation is free. Some operations have quite long waiting lists and there is private medical care which is a dual system. Childbirth is free and visits to the doctor for children aged under 6 is free. We have free dental care for all school children as well. In this instance New Zealand is a very good place to live. The cost of going to the doctor for an adult or the dentist is quite expensive and those people less well off do struggle to pay up to $ 70. 00 for a doctors appointment usually about 15 to 20 mins.
David McGuinness, North Lankashire, Scotland: In Scotland, our health service is fully funded and state owned and managed by the Scottish government fully independent of the English health service is being privatised and they have a dual system running.
5. What measures are being taken by your government to eradicate the poverty level in your country?
Gwenda Roberts, Bangor, Wales, UK: Due to the poverty levels being highest in Wales and being behind England in the multi wealth in throughout our country, Plaid Cymru are enforcing that Wales should be heard and seen in Westminister of London by providing adequate extra money being pumped by London politics into organisations and various adequate budgets.
Jude Collins, Dublin, Ireland: That’s easy – none. In either the 6 or the 26 counties. in fact they are making life harder for those with least.
Jeanette Saxby, Christchurch, New Zealand: We have a government that does not really accept that there is poverty in this country. It is a different kind of poverty though as we do not have the ghetto or slums like makeshift housing but there are those people who do not get any welfare payments because they have no address. The homeless people live on the streets and beg or commit crime. Our current Government is right wing and tends to believe that any person can improve their circumstances and fails to see that mental illness, drug addiction or disability can cause someone to lose their security and home and then it is very hard to get back into normal society.
6. What are the economic complications and problems being faced by an ordinary citizens of your country?
Gwenda Roberts, Bangor, Wales, UK: The ordinary people of Wales and throughout UK are faced with more job redundancies, less available work is imminent through hardship of local business failings and bankruptcy categories. Even less government jobs will implicate toughness through budget cuts along with underfunding money management.
Jude Collins, Dublin, Ireland: The main problem faced by ordinary citizens are:
(i)having a job;
(ii) being able to pay the mortgage on their house.
For many people these are serious problems. Not for the majority but for many.
Jeanette Saxby, Christchurch, New Zealand: The economic problems we face in New Zealand are not unique to any western country. We have shortage of jobs and some people are unwilling or over qualified to do menial jobs, work more than a 40 hour week, do shift work or move to get work. Much of the work is in the bigger cities but the rent and cost of housing is expensive. It is almost impossible to live on only one income so both parents need to work in order to provide for a family. The computerisation and online shopping and almost all other bill paying is now done online instead of over a counter with a person. Enrol is quite expensive and public transport is not fully servicing all areas . For example we have no train to the airport. To get to the airport you need to take your car and pay big parking costs or a taxi which to get to the city of Auckland is over $100.00 which is a lot of money for some.
David McGuinness, North Lankashire, Scotland: The main economic complications are is staying fed, warm and keeping a roof over our heads in a low wage economy couple to high cost of living is causing mass poverty.
7. Austerity measures are attempts to significantly curtail government spending in an effort to control public-sector debt, particularly when a nation is in jeopardy of defaulting on its bonds. Do you think the austerity measures taken by the governments have proven to be good or bad to the masses of your country?
Gwenda Roberts, Bangor, Wales, UK: Austerity and trident methods ought to be scrapped completley in which even budgeting throughout the country out to be made even and not neglected by leaving the poor people out of anything.
Jude Collins, Dublin, Ireland: I am convinced that austerity measures have the reverse effect – they don’t make life better for ordinary people, they make it worse.
Jeanette Saxby, Christchurch, New Zealand: We didn’t have to take austerity measures in New Zealand although wages have not increased much and probably have not kept up with inflation. Some activities that are for the local community like swimming pools, libraries, public parks and even toilets are being down graded and less money to support them. Happiness for the general population does not seem a goal of the current government who wants people to be more aspirational and work. Harder for less money. I am quite socialist and think that the money paid in benefits (welfare) is barely enough to live on. I think money is wasted on big projects but not job creation. The blame is always put on the poor people at the bottom and the White collar criminals who embezzle or swindle millions of dollars in tax avoidance or other manipulations are never jailed. The poor person who steals a loaf of bread and made an example of sent to court and punished. Wealthy people get good lawyers and avoid the jail sentence.
David McGuinness, North Lankashire, Scotland: The austerity measures taken by Westminster have had no effect on state debt as the debt has double over the last five years.