Interim CEO of the ECA Stephanie Fingal answers a question from an attendee during the panel discussion at the ECA’s seminar on decriminalisation of marijuana and its impact in the workplace at Hilton Trinidad and Conference Center.

Government’s billion-dollar relief package to cushion the effects of COVID-19 is getting two thumbs up from the Employers’ Consultative Association.

The ECA’S chief executive officer, Stephanie Fingal, told Guardian Media the association is especially pleased with the $1,500 Salary Relief Grant which is to be administered by the National Insurance Board.

This was one of several packages announced by the government during a media conference on Monday. The Salary Relief Grant, according to the government will assist over 80,000 citizens and is estimated to cost taxpayers approximately $400 million.

In a telephone interview, Fingal admitted since the arrival of the virus to T&T’s shores many ECA members have had to halt operations while also latching on tightly to staff.

However, many of those businesses she stated are now losing their grip.

According to her, “we very well understand that there are some employers who are well funded and are able to maintain salaries, even to the end of this month so we have urged persons to continue paying monthly paid workers to the end.”

She lamented, “we are definitely seeing the decline in business and people do not have money obviously so jobs are being lost.”

Fingal was unable to say how many ECA members are now embarking on layoffs but indicated that the association is providing guidance on how to execute this dreadful exercise.

“We are encouraging people to track data so we could get data from them but for those who have called us, some might be paying until the end of the month or the end of the week but the majority have already adjusted salaries and lay off persons already,” she said.

Fingal said thus far the government has been taking a “very proactive approach” in trying to curb the fallout of the global pandemic. She added the government has ticked all boxes-social, economic and health—to ensure T&T survives COVID-19.

But she also urged the government to be clear on how it plans to roll out all of its relief packages to ensure the integrity of the process is maintained.