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MP for Oropouche West Davendranath Tancoo holds a copy of the Sunday Guardian during a UNC press conference at the Office of the Opposition leader in Port-of-Spain, yesterday. Looking on is Tabaquite MP, Anita Haynes.

ANSA McAL’s intention to vaccinate all its workers is not just a philanthropic gesture but also a solid business initiative, according to UNC (Economics spokesman) Dave Tancoo.

Speaking at yesterday’s Opposition media briefing in Port-of- Spain, on T&T’s vaccine issues, Tancoo added, “That announcement by one of the largest conglomerates in the country and the Caribbean was not just a philantropic gesture…do you think they are willing to risk their investments, their bottom line, their profits to the incompetent government? Never!”

“Their stated commitment to vaccinate their staff is a recognition that they have no confidence in the Government’s ability to source and provide sufficient vaccinations to ensure that they are able to conduct their business globally.”

“But it is also a solid business initiative in recognition that there is clear competitive advantage in being vaccinated first, in terms of being able to travel to trade shows, to look at equipment and investment opportunities, to negotiate trade deals, loans, credit terms, etc—this is the economics of vaccination.”

Tancoo added,”This is also a way of assuring investors, shareholders, business and trading partners that they will be eligible for business as soon as possible. That is more than we can say for the rest of our businesses and citizens. When will they be ready for business?”

“There has long been talk in the developed world of ‘Vaccine Passports’, whereby persons will have to provide evidence of having taken the vaccine as a prerequisite for entering another country. Our business community will be left further behind by the Government’s slipshod vaccine procurement initiatives.”

Tancoo said countries, which had obtained vaccines, would for instance open their tourism sectors quicker than T&T and states with business to transact would trend quicker to countries which were open and safe from COVID .

But T&T, he said, doesn’t have niches again: Tancoo noted,” Therefore Government is facilitating the diversion of foreign direct investment away from T&T to the rest of the world including to every other Caricom state, many of whom have gotten vaccines ahead of T&T.”

Education spokesman of the Anita Haynes took issue with the scholarship situation noting students prepared for exams, enrolled in universities and expected to get a scholarship, before it was announced scholarships were being cut from 400 to 100.

While it was illogical not to expect change in the pandemic climate, she said students would have had an expectation that they’d get a scholarship.

She noted reports of one student who enrolled in university and had all ones in results – but didn’t get a scholarship.

Haynes said the overall situation ought not to be so easily dismissed as it will affect T&T ahead.

She said Government needed to understand it was dealing with human lives because if the process is made harder, students will drop out.