Peter George Jr
On the heels of a successful approach in containing COVID-19, the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago (GORTT) was too conservative in addressing our economic fallout. Preserving lives is always a priority but it must not cause one to forget the importance of preserving the country’s ‘way of life’.
T&T has reached the inflection point where the economic consequences of COVID-19 and the threat to our way of life is as great if not greater than the threat to lives.
The overarching threat now that we seem to have the virus under control, is the threat to our economic continuity.
The economy is the heart and soul of any country and it must be protected–at all costs. We run the risk of widespread bankruptcies, especially in small businesses which are the backbone of an economy. What follows bankruptcies and business closure is unemployment. Certain decision risks must be taken in order to ensure, as much as possible, that that does not happen.
If money is the blood of an economy, spending is the heart…We must do everything we can to maintain spending in the economy. Simply put, if we don’t prioritise the country’s economic well-being it is quite possible T&T will find itself in a position where it would be irrecoverable.
Based on the Government's posturing, there is now an urgent need for massive fiscal intervention–as broad as it is large. The Government and the people of T&T must understand the importance of mitigating the economic tail risks of this virus. Every effort must be taken to provide liquidity to businesses especially in industries that are most affected.
Direct assistance to citizen must also be more robust and must be expedited. Citizens are innocent victims here and must not be allowed to be collateral damage. The fabric of society must not bear the cost through no fault of their own. Government is the ultimate backstop and must be that now.
While there is a general distaste for business and the thought of using public funds to assist business, this must be viewed from the lens of using taxpayers money, not just to prop up businesses, but to save taxpayers' jobs!
By doing this, we will, hopefully, stave off bankruptcies, protect jobs and keep spending in the economy at a level that minimises our economic contraction.
There comes a time when the cure becomes worse than the disease, and that time may well have passed.