San Juan business association president Vivek Charran says the country is “walking a tightrope between social responsibility and bankruptcy.”
In a statement on the effects of covid19 on businesses and TT, Charran said the population remained concerned, some downright afraid.
While acknowledging the role of the business community in the national landscape, Charran appealed to Government to remain mindful of the debts of not only business owners but also TT.
“The SJBA would like to point out many businesses face financial obligations they must fulfil. These obligations bear penalties and some of these penalties are grave and invoke forfeiture and foreclosure of assets and collateral,” he said in his statement.
Charran said businesses understood the necessity for containment and the social distancing necessary to curb the spread of covid19, and the need to protect the public, themselves and employees, but “the reality is grim.
“The SJBA seeks to point out other than supermarkets or pharmacies, sales and income have been drastically cut. This is coupled with the already challenging slowdown in commercial activity.
“Yet still, businesses must meet the requirements to the banks, insurance companies, and landlords and of course, employees.”
Charran said he has been in contact with businesses operating in malls, and many owners have expressed concern about the isolation protocols, “when landlords are still demanding their monthly rents.
“The SJBA remains concerned about the impact of the coronavirus, especially if businesses may be forced to remain closed for long periods of time.
“And the association is further worried about companies and organisations who may, or may not, be able to fulfil their financial obligations.”
Charran bemoaned that regular payouts, when income was not coming in, left business owners in a precarious position.
“The association has called for assistance and understanding from the banks and financial institutions as they seek support during this trying time,” he said, also suggesting that landlords charge rent on a pro rata basis.
He also suggested financial institutions allow for leniency with rates to interest charges on loans, penalties and fines for arrears for the period, as well as consider interest-free loans for businesses to cover their costs in the current situation of meagre income streams until they all recover from the pandemic.
Charran also called on Government to address monetary and fiscal policies to mitigate the effects the pandemic will have on businesses. “One suggested measure would be considered delaying tax deadlines,” he said.
Charran also lauded the Central Bank for adjusting the repo rate downward so lowering the cost of borrowing which, he said, was a much-needed lifeline at this time.