TT Chamber of Industry and Commerce CEO Gabriel Faria and TT Energy Chamber Dwight Mahabir said many essential businesses may not be able to pay people whom are deemed non-essential, despite requests to do so by the Prime Minister in his address on Monday afternoon.
Faria told Newsday since the outbreak of covid19 in TT in March last year, most companies have already put together a framework for people who don’t necessarily need to be in the office, to work from home.
“Even essential businesses we know are being extra precautions and asking staff to stay home if they don’t need to come out.”
But both Faria and Mahabir said businesses may not be able to provide that support, because of the current economy.
Mahabir admitted that economically, 2021 is not much different than the year before for the energy sector and with volatile energy prices and delays in projects the ability to support staff that are deemed non-essential would depend on the business.
“We have to remember that the balance sheets for different businesses would vary. Larger companies may be able to rally but smaller companies would be challenged.”
He said that if there are projects which are now deemed non-essential and are put on pause, temporary staff could be scuttled, however permanent staff may face a reduced salary.
“There has been lower activity because of covid19. The turnaround with work on these plants, the prices of methanol and delayed work has significantly reduced our numbers.”
Faria said while the reasoning behind government’s limiting of movement was sound, he saw no need to restrict pick-up and delivery services.
“Many businesses have developed their digital structure. It is unfortunate after being able to build the infrastructure they are still not being allowed to open. We are hoping that government would take another look at that.”
In a release sent to the media the TT Chamber said it looked forward to the “robust enforcement” which was mentioned by Keith Rowley but were still concerned whether the increased restrictions would curb the virus’ spread.
They called for take-away and delivery services for retail businesses to be re-instated.
Rowley, at a press conference on Monday announced that all non-essential retail and food services would be restricted along with other restrictions announced on Thursday last.