Pedestrians walk along Independence Square North Port-of-Spain on Tuesday where a smaller number of people can be seen on a daily basis as the COVID-19 restrictins continue.

Local businessman Peter George has written to both Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and Finance Minister Colm Imbert outlining a “ TT 6.45 billion dollar COVID-19 Marshall plan” aimed at stabilizing citizens’ financial position as well as incentivizing and stimulating business activity to assure the continuity of society.

Among the recommendations, is the immediate payout of TTD 2,000 to working citizens between the ages 18 to 55.

He proposed that, “TT 2,000 per adult per household and TT 1,000 per additional child for a period of six months (by end of month 2 all must have registered with BIR in order to qualify for the last 4 months – this way GORTT can build a proper database).”

George also contended that the social safety nets in place must also be augmented by broad-based and substantial direct assistance to those most affected by the devastating impact of the pandemic.

In the letter dated June 8, George said an unconventional approach was needed to treat with the devastating effects of the pandemic which has undermined the economy.

“The contraction experienced in the last 15 months has been extremely sharp and destabilizing and came on the heels of an already threatening economic stagnation since 2008.”

George said several hundred thousand citizens have had much if not all of their savings eroded and face a mountain of commitments in the ensuing months.

He added while the 4.8 billion dollar total cash payout seemed staggering, it required a workforce that was assured of its own personal sustainability and can therefore contribute effectively.

The businessman also recognized the need for government to expand and boost local consumption, and that business growth resumed at an even greater pace than what was lost, to create employment absorption.

To this end, George recommended a 5-year income tax holiday on new business start-ups.

“The objective of this initiative/incentive is to drive and encourage new business starts to make up for the countless thousands that have closed.”

George said the measures were taken and customized from the playbook of the country’s foreign developed partners and noted that while we did not have the expansionary capacity of those nations, all financial tools at the country’s disposal must be used in the recovery efforts.

On Wednesday, during the mid-year budget review presentation, Finance Minister Colm Imbert piloted a motion in parliament to adopt the report of the Standing Finance Committee on the consideration for proposals for the variation and supplementation for the fiscal year 2021.

Government is seeking to increase expenditure for fiscal 2021 by $2.9 billion.