Moonilal: Closed bars leave V'zuelans, single mothers jobless

MP for Oropouche East Dr Roodal Moonilal dusing the special sitting of the House of Representatives on Friday. - ROGER JACOB
MP for Oropouche East Dr Roodal Moonilal dusing the special sitting of the House of Representatives on Friday. - ROGER JACOB

OROPOUCHE East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal said with the covid19 restrictions bars could have stayed open to sell drinks while congregating could have been restricted.

He was contributing to debate on the Miscellaneous Provisions (2019 Novel Corona Virus (2019-nCoV)) Bill in the House Friday.

"We are in favour and support of any measure which would lead to the demobilisation of people at this time."

He said in several constituencies there are places called "bars" and the objective of the legislation is to prevent people from congregating and not to prevent people from eating or drinking a beverage.

"In my constituency alone...the bars are critical in all these local village economies."

He recalled one person spoke to him Thursday evening who owns about 15 bars and he had to send home 40 workers.

"Many of those workers are single mothers. One worker in particular (has) three small children, she (now) has no job."

Moonilal also said a number of the thousands of registered Venezuelans in TT were working in bars.

"Now they out on the streets."

He said bars also have supply chains and sell snacks and "cutters" and, with the bar closures, he received a report from a poultry owner that demand for meat has dropped about 70 per cent, leading to poultry workers being sent home.

"A 'bar' is not a bar. It is a business with a supply chain. A micro-economy."

Moonilal said the policy objective was not to reduce consumption of alcohol "as laudable as that is."

"So could we have not considered, given the economic fallout, the employment fallout, the transfer of income fallout, that bars could have been open so that they can sell beverages, or whatever they sell, and people collect it and leave. They go home. Just how you go home with your box of chicken and chips you go home with anything you buy."

He pointed out that people can buy alcohol at a grocery and go and drink.

"Members opposite skin their face, and twist up their face and give me monkey face while I'm talking. But the issue is the policy objective is not the consumption of alcohol but people should not assemble."

He questioned why supermarkets still sell alcohol "when you go outside in the car park, open the trunk and say, 'Okay, we having a few drinks.'" He said the "laser light" focus on the bar was resulting in the small businessman facing a terrible economic period.

He said that Government can ask people to be reasonable but there comes a point in time when you have to put your foot down and impose a penalty.

He also said the Opposition will not make an assessment of the handling of the crisis by the Government but that time will come, possibly sooner rather than later.

Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi in his wind-up noted the impact on workers Moonilal spoke about, but he reiterated that these were not normal circumstances.

"We will be returning to the Parliament at the shortest measure possible to treat with certain financial matters so that we can assist the citizens of this country in the economic hardship that is upon us. The Government is acutely aware, the Honourable Prime Minister is acutely aware, of the impact to the very smallest and most vulnerable of persons in TT."


"Moonilal: Closed bars leave V’zuelans, single mothers jobless"

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