A RECENT Market Facts and Opinion (MFO) survey on covid19 showed a number of people are concerned about their income, said United National Congress (UNC) PRO Anita Haynes.
The survey, which was released on Tuesday, sought to gauge public confidence in the government’s handling the spread of the virus, general knowledge about the virus, trust in various information sources, concern over the effects of the virus, and changes in lifestyle habits since the outbreak.
Haynes told Newsday that polls are always useful as a snapshot of public opinion at a given time.
"The UNC notes in particular that people are worried about our economic viability in a post-covid19 world, as well as seven in ten people reporting a loss in income. These numbers tell us that our presentation of our economic plan, 'Healing TT after covid19,' is timely. We are focused on delivering aid to all those most affected as well in ensuring that there is viable economic policy for job creation."
Movement for Social Justice youth officer Angelo Hart said the MFO mentions the 18-24 age demographic's scepticism about the virus, but failed to gauge the older demographic's propensity for believing fake news on social media.
"It is a documented fact that older persons are more gullible when it comes to misleading information online."
Hart added that the MFO also reported high confidence in the Government's handling of the crisis, but this was due mainly to the way it contained the virus and the small sample size used in the survey.
"We recognise that the Government has gone to great lengths to prevent the virus from spreading throughout the country, and as far as the results have shown there are no incidents of community spread. The opposition party is also making complete fools of themselves, adding to the perception that the Government is 'on the ball.'"
Hart said, however, that in matters of social security, Government has left a lot to be desired.
"Given that over 30,000 people have applied for grants, a sample size of 936 surveys is too minuscule a number to ascertain the actual feelings of the population."
Congress of the People leader Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan said people would be satisfied with Government's handling of the health crisis and flattening the curve, and she attributed this to citizens expressing confidence in Health Ministry and National Security Ministry technocrats.
"On the handling of the economy itself, I don't think people are very satisfied."
She noted the comment in the survey that some people feel the economic impact will be even worse than the outbreak itself and that seven out of ten reported a loss of income.
She said a number of other ministries had not stepped up at all, including Education, Labour, Trade and Agriculture. She stressed there should have been a boost to the purchase of local produce to reduce forex spend, but instead farmers had had to dump produce because market space was unavailable.
The survey found people aged 45-54 and those of African descent were more likely to exhibit confidence in the Government’s performance during the pandemic. Seepersad-Bachan said in terms of ethnicity it was tribal politics at play and this was not really an objective assessment.
"We have to stop the political polarisation and have people working for the country's interest."
Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh, speaking on Wednesday at the covid19 media briefing, said the survey, which found people are generally satisfied with the covid19 health response, bears testimony to the expertise of public health officials to manage the pandemic. He said there was no rulebook for dealing with the pandemic. He added that the report is testimony to the caring of nurses and doctors.
Deyalsingh said, however, these good reports were not an excuse to take a victory lap.
“Let us accept it, but we have not won anything,” he said.
With reporting by Julien Neaves and Melissa Doughty