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Jai Leladharsingh

Business leaders are expressing solidarity with the State of Emergency announced by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley but say it was a bit late in coming.

In an immediate response to the announcement, the coordinator of the Confederation of Regional Business Chambers Jai Leladharsingh said the SOE was “absolutely necessary and essential.”

“The reality is that the rate of COVID-19 infections and deaths are increasing. To mitigate these critical risks, persons congregating must be fully discouraged. We are now urging errant citizens who have been very lethargic and apathetic towards the health protocols to take these measures seriously,” Leladharsingh said.

Noting that everyone must join together to flatten the curve, Leladharsingh said, “We have reached a point where it is either we all swim together or perish together.”

Penal/Debe Chamber: It is extremely late

But the president of the Penal/Debe Chamber of Industry Rampersad Dhalip Sieuraj said the Government mismanaged the pandemic from the start.

“This is extremely late in coming. Had it not been from the call of T&T Chamber, it may not have come. We have moved from having a few infections per day to having hundreds of infections per day. I would really like to know why he waited so long,” Sieuraj said.

“This Government is yet to govern. There is no excuse or reasoning about why they waited for this crisis to reach this point. It shows a lack of governance and the absence of making the right decision at the right time.”

Chaguanas Chamber: Better late than never

Meanwhile, the president of the Chaguanas Chamber of Commerce Rishi Sookhai appealed to the Government to use its influence to lobby financial institutions to assist floundering businesses if the SOE goes past May 23.

“The Prime Minister tried to hold back as much as possible and I do believe SOE came a bit late but it is better to be late now than never,” he said.

“The most important thing we need now is herd immunity so that we can start seeing our way. We need to follow the protocols because people are dying and cases are going up. We may not see the effects of these lockdown measures immediately but if the numbers don’t fall as drastically, there will be an extension of the lockdown.”