$500m for agriculture, tourism recovery plan

Shoppers out and about in their 
facemasks in Port  of Spain on Friday. 
Shoppers out and about in their facemasks in Port of Spain on Friday. PHOTO BY SUREASH CHOLAI - SUREASH CHOLAI

A TOURISM recovery plan and $500 million for the agriculture sector are among the suggestions of the post-covid19 economic recovery Road Map Committee.

This was reported by Finance Minister Colm Imbert in the House Friday as he presented the 2020 Supplementary Appropriation and Mid-Year Review.

He said, consistent with Government’s policy to seek the broadest possible consensus and advice from among some of the best minds in TT, the Economic Road Map prepared by the 23-member committee was “now providing ample guidance for us to take advantage of this window of opportunity”.

Imbert noted the preliminary Road Map Committee report focused on eight sectors which would be the foundation for a revitalised economy: agriculture, construction, energy, manufacturing, services, wholesale, retail and distribution, banking and insurance, small business and credit unions. He added that Tobago was accorded a special status.

“The Road Map stresses that the agricultural sector should be geared to making the country a more food-secure nation. Productive capacity is recommended to be increased with a reduced dependence on specific imported foods and accessibility to domestic produce, creating in the process strong linkages along the food value and distribution chain.”

He reported that a significant agricultural stimulus package of $500 million was proposed to launch this programme. Imbert said the tourism sector required particular attention and the Road Map Committee recommended that a task force should be develop a tourism recovery plan addressing priority areas, resource needs as well as appropriate solutions.

“In parallel, tourism-related construction incentives should be expanded as well as emergency support grants for micro-businesses and a liquidity support programme for viable small-and-medium-sized tourism related businesses.”

He said the Road Map report also pointed to the need to revitalise the construction sector to create jobs and economic activity in the quickest possible time, with the commencement of a number of new projects injecting considerable funds into the economy.

“In parallel, new private-sector shovel-ready projects have been identified for immediate implementation, as well as urban revitalisation of main city centres.”

The Road Map, Imbert added, also emphasised the urgent need for revitalising the energy sector and an assessment of the sustainability of the gas value chain to ensure a competitive, viable and sustainable investment environment in the energy sector. He said, with the support Government is providing the manufacturing sector, the Road Map Committee believes that the sector should quickly emerge from the shock brought about by associated closures. He added Government was particularly pleased with the report’s emphasis on both short-term and medium and long-term objectives.

“The implementation of a targeted and sizeable support programme to provide a safety-net for the most vulnerable households and businesses is well advised and we will seek to expand the scope and focus of the social safety net, wherever feasible. We will reach out to the vulnerable individuals and communities to meet their basic needs and very importantly, we will correct existing inefficiencies in the delivery system and harness technology to improve delivery and targeting of beneficiaries.”


"$500m for agriculture, tourism recovery plan"

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