Opposition Leader, Kamla Persad-Bissessar SC MP, says everything must be done to ensure that businesses in the retail and service sectors survive, after more than a year of lockdowns because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and she is calling for the reopening of such businesses.
In a strongly worded release, the Opposition Leader says, “…the current lockdown has not had the desired effect. Covid infections have not slowed, and the harsh restrictions have led to thousands of businesses closing their doors permanently…”
The following is the full text of the statement issued by the Opposition Leader on the issue…
The Rowley government’s continued forced lockdown of our retail and service sectors without a clear plan going forward is unacceptable and tyrannical.
While lockdown measures were necessary at the onset of the Covid -19 pandemic to contain the infection, flatten the curve and prevent our healthcare system from becoming overwhelmed, more than a year later, and after much financial hardships endured by citizens, the current lockdown has not had the desired effect. Covid infections have not slowed, and the harsh restrictions have led to thousands of businesses closing their doors permanently.
Rowley says he is balancing lives and livelihoods, but lives and livelihoods are one and the same. If thousands of people can no longer pay their rent, their mortgage or buy food for their families, our nation will soon be facing an enormous social disaster.
This PNM government has been the most economically ignorant administration in our history. Rowley seems oblivious to the fact that Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises make up 85% of all registered businesses and account for more than a quarter of our GDP.
We are all facing this crisis together, yet Rowley and his financers behave as if they exist in a special and exclusive part of T&T that shields them from the rest of society. Let me be clear, if our economy sinks, everyone, regardless of political affiliation, class or race is going to sink with it.
At least one business group has indicated that retail businesses are fully prepared to restart, given that approximately 60% of workers in the sector have been vaccinated, and they have already implemented health protocols.
I call on the Prime Minister to take urgent steps to re-open this vital sector, as close to 80,000 jobs are at stake.
We must act now to preserve jobs and the economic stability of Trinidad and Tobago.
Kamla Persad-Bissessar, SC, MP
Leader of the Opposition