Ricardo Mohammed, director, Confederation of Regional Business Chambers said while he is happy that the Prime Minister has given the go ahead for big business to resume operations during phase two of the reopening the economy, consideration should also be given to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
The country has been on lockdown since mid-March because of the covid19 pandemic with only essential businesses being allowed to operate. Restaurants and roadside food vendors were allowed to reopen on May 11.
“We agree with Government on opening new sectors of the economy especially regarding phase two. We are awaiting Government’s confirmation as to when we can open our doors and begin the operations so as to re-employ a major part of the work force.
“In east Trinidad I own and operate an essential business and we’ve put things in place from the start of covid19. However, I have a lot of colleagues, especially a lot of SMEs, who can put procedures in place just like any fast-food outlets or any other businesses that are being allowed to open and operate under strict guidelines regarding covid19.”
Mohammed said he believed that consideration must be given to the other small business enterprises such as clothing stores or other retail outlets that once they have safety measures in place for operating such as measures to protect staff, use of personal protective equipment, measures to protect customers, and signs to allow proper crowd control.
“We do understand Government is putting things on a phased proposal, but we need to consider one or two SMEs in addition to the manufacturing sector and the construction sector such as clothing stores, once they follow strict guidelines.
“I know for a fact that many of the businesses in the east are on the verge of closing unless some form of relief is given. Many of the business owners would have applied for grants for their employees and many of them have not received any assistance as yet. We are looking at the different considerations that are now being made by Government.