Tobago Chamber of Commerce president Diane Hadad has reiterated her call for a review of the country’s financial system in the wake of the Government’s decision to restrict gathering and some business activity to deal with the latest covid19 spike.
Hadad said financial institutions need to amend its arrangements with clients, as business owners and employees continue to suffer losses owing to the covid19 measures.
She said the uncertainty of the economic climate would pile more debt on already struggling entrepreneurs.
At the Ministry of Health’s covid19 briefing on April 14, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh announced that beaches will be closed for three weeks. He also announced a ban on public in-house dining at restaurants and cinemas.
Deyalsingh said no more than five people will be allowed in a public gathering.
On April 21, further restrictions were introduced, including a ban on public gatherings for entertainment, places of worship to operate at 25 per cent capacity, no more than ten people allowed at weddings and funerals, and a rotational work policy again for public servants. These latest measures will stay in place until May 16.
As the threat of a possible third wave of the pandemic looms, Hadad believes the measures that have been implemented by the Government will create further hardship for businessmen and average Tobagonians, given the island’s tourism-based economy.
As such, she said the “financial formula” must be changed to reflect the further fallout that is likely to come from the measures.
“The effects of the decisions of covid19 on the economy and the business community and people at large are starting to get to a point of frustration because immediately, as we opted to treat with some measure of a little hope of Easter, immediately after, the place back to dormant or dead again,” she said.
From a business standpoint, Hadad said it will be hard for entrepreneurs to make decisions.
“It cannot make sense answering your bankers or financial counterparts and, therefore, you will find yourselves in a position where you cannot make decisions for your business that send any level of hope or plan.”
She added: “Although you are living in the now, you also cannot make decisions as to how you are going to operate because it is up today, down tomorrow. So, inevitably, the business community is getting themselves in more and more debt.”
Hadad believes the people who have the “privilege of being served through the Government’s pockets” as well as those who are “beneficiaries through the public service” will not be affected by covid19 in any major way.
“Therefore, this formula cannot continue because we are slowly creating a massive imbalance in the country.”
She continued: “I continue to say that open-minded hearts need to come to the table in order for us to come up with practical solutions in terms of how we move forward because the holes are getting bigger and deeper.”
Hadad said people in public and private sector jobs are becoming increasingly disenchanted.
One woman, she claimed, complained that the Government, through its anti-covid19 measures, is taking away her youth.
Hadad said the woman was prepared to work and “take the risk of covid(19)."