THE AMERICAN Chamber of Commerce of TT (Amcham) says the restrictions on business and individual activity by government in relation to the covid19 pandemic should be linked to specific triggers.
President of the chamber Patricia Ghany, speaking at the launch of Amcham's 24th annual Health, Safety, Security and Environment (HSSE) Conference and Exhibition, said clear triggers need to be established to determine different levels of response to control its spread.
This, she said, should be "clearly communicated in advance and, of course, based on science."
Figures presented in the October 5 budget for 2020/2021 indicated the projected contraction of the economy was estimated as at least negative 6.8 per cent for 2020.
Ghany said Amcham is concerned that "further or continued restrictions placed on business will have an even bigger impact on the nation’s economy that will hinder long term growth and investment."
She outlined a suggested path forward for the reopening of the economy, saying TT's economic situation in March is not completely applicable to the current context.
"What we did in March, when we knew little to nothing about the virus, is not completely applicable now." said Ghany. "For example, if we hypothetically record five straight days of new cases of more than 100, severe lockdowns may be necessary. But if we are at fewer than, say,40 a day for five days, a significant reopening of the economy may be possible. And, of course, if we drop to fewer than 20 new cases a day, we can join the Caricom bubble and fully reopen the economy."
She said while reopening the borders remains a public health and safety concern, there should be a clear and reasonable criterion for the reopening.
She added that, in the meantime, measures like mask-wearing, social distancing and the restrictions on mass gatherings will likely have to remain until a vaccine is developed and administered to a majority of the population.
"Individuals will have to take much of the responsibility for ensuring that cases don’t spread through their actions," she said, "but continued uncertainty and apparent arbitrary measures are counterproductive."
She said she believes there is a need for deeper engagement and clarity on national development objectives.
"Some clear milestones and both short- and long-term objectives in the context of an overall plan are required, which would require meaningful engagement with stakeholders."