Finance Minister Colm Imbert has signed the first tranche of a policy-based loan agreement in the sum of US$180 million with the Corporación Andina De Fomento (CAF) Development Bank.
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Caterers feel Christmas pinch
Caterers, restaurant owners and event organisers are already feeling the squeeze of the recession and some have opted to attract customers by lowering their prices and slashing marketing and advertising costs.
Newly-established companies such as Sriracha Caterers, based in Couva, say they are totally dependant on social media to market their menus to save costs. Well-established companies such as Boomerang Caterers are, however, continuing to offer packages with a range of prices from economical to lavish.
In an interview, owner of Sriracha Caterers, Nalini Singh-Basdeo said she experienced a 30 per cent drop in bookings.
“I target my customers with the quality of the food. We use high-end products which are more expensive to keep up our quality standards so most times the cutbacks are on my end in terms of profit.
We push social media marketing and that has been really effective,” Singh-Basdeo said.
Owner of Superb Caterers Wayne Ali said his company has experienced a 50 per cent decrease in bookings for Christmas.
“The whole economy in a mess. We have been offering lower prices for food but our bookings have decreased drastically,” he said.
An official of BK’s Catering Service made similar comments saying, “We also had a little under 50 per cent drop. We are trying to cut our price but people are looking at their money now more than ever.”
However, Jamie Hadeed, of Boomerang Caterer, said her bookings have remained steady.
Hadeed said she also has decided not to spend extra cash on advertising and marketing but the size of her bookings had been reduced.
Manager of Soong’s Great Wall Restaurant John Johnston also said business was not bad.
“Business is okay, we are not complaining but what we are seeing in San Fernando is a lot more competition and this has affected bookings more than the recession,” Johnston said.
President of the San Fernando Business Association Daphne Bartlett said even though business was very slow, better times were ahead.
“We are looking forward to the gas find in the Juniper field and at the end of next year, we should see better times,” Bartlett said.
She said there have been no excessive spending and even stores that usually sold curtains and draperies in abundance were reporting a decrease in sales.
President of the Penal/Debe Chamber of Industry Rampersad Sieuraj said while some caterers had increased their prices, others had “watered down” their menus to save costs. Sieuraj said the effects of the recession were hitting people hard.
“People are facing a bleak Christmas because they now have a lower disposable income given the higher prices and this has triggered a negative business environment,” Sieuraj said.
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