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SI students in Cuba want gov’t to urgently pay their allowances as they talk of hardships

Cuba where Solomon Islands students are studying
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Solomon Islands students studying in Cuba are urging the government to urgently settle their outstanding allowances as the delay has severely affected their studies.

Writing from Cuba, a rep of the students’ Michael Piku said: “I hereby stand on behalf of our students and we’re really in need that the responsible authority should consider us and our allowances as soon as possible.”

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He said the government hasn’t been responding to their calls for their allowances to be paid for a quite a while now, “and we are in desperate need.”

Piku said with the current situation Cuba faces; it is extremely difficult for them to cope while trying to finish their schoolwork schedules.

According to Piku, the country has faced a dire economic crisis after the pandemic causing severe shortages of food, medicine and other basic necessities and hyperinflation of goods and services.

“We have to undergo long frustrating hours of queue just to buy food, water and other basic household items daily, because the foods given in our respective place to eat (dining hall) is barely enough to sustain us. Due to the shortages of everything, supermarkets, pharmacies, book-shops and agro markets are always almost empty,” said Piku.

He adds: “Most of the time we have no choice, but to buy from black markets, which means things are overpriced while the quality is always low.”

Piku said everything has to be rationed and they can’t take or buy beyond the required amount.

“So as do foods given in comedor (dining hall). We are obliged to either buy less or eat less so that everyone can get a share of what is available. So extra pocket money is always needed.”

 Piku said besides this they have to deal with the deteriorating public transportation and fuel shortages.

“Most of our students have their training clinics/hospitals outside of their respective schools. They get public transport every morning to their required places of training and they must always be on time. The shortage of fuel has caused dozens of buses out of circulation. We have no choice, but to accept and face or deal with long lines of people fighting to get into overcrowded buses or squeeze in to whatever is available. “Sometimes we wait for three to four hours to catch a bus,” the student’s spokesman said in a letter to SBMOnline.

He said there are other forms of transportation available, but they’re very expensive. Piku added that people who have cars and camions charge passengers dearly to cover their time spent on queuing for fuels (days or weeks) and the hikes of fuel price.

Piku said inflation is another challenge they face everyday.

“With the very limited goods and services available, new prices are put each day.  Things are getting tougher and harder and prices are soaring at galloping rate. In an attempt to ease the situation, the Cuban government established a payment system called MLC. Literally, only foreign currencies such as USD, Euros, CAD etc. are allowed in order to buy in MLC stores. However, since we only depend on government allowances (given in euros), we only have access to these shops when our allowance is ready,” said Piku.

Therefore, he on behalf of the students humbly appeals to the responsible authority (MEHRD) to kindly consider their plight and pay their outstanding allowances urgently.

When contacted Permanent Secretary of Education and Human Resources Dr Franco Roddie he said been informed of the students’ flight and he he’s checking with the Ministry of Finance to expedite the payment process of the students’ allowances.

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