Leading businessman, Peter George Jr. is urging Government to move even quicker with implementing many of the proposed measures to steer the country through the current COVID-19 crisis.
In a statement issued today, Mr George Jr. says relief must be provided more efficiently to citizens in desperate need, and he also recommends the adoption of aggressive and innovative strategies for revitalising the economy post-crisis.
He says Government must move quicker to avoid an economic catastrophe in this country.
The full text of Mr George Jr.’s statement, follows…
STATEMENT BY BUSINESSMAN PETER GEORGE JR.
As bad as we may think it is, it could get worse. GORTT [Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago] must act with significantly more speed, vigour and innovativeness to address TT looming economic crisis.
Firstly, targeted citizen relief must be expedited far more quickly and as a matter of national urgency, and the scope further reviewed to ensure maximum effectiveness and impact.
There must also be a concerted and comprehensive plan to keep the nation fed, utilizing every state apparatus at its disposal. There are many global examples which we can use! I and I’m certain other major food operators stand ready to assist.
Government seems on the face to be taking a measured approach, consistent with a conventional economic situation as opposed to the efforts seen with most of our international partners! This is a treacherous path fraught with peril as time is not an ally here.
There is a far greater risk of calamitous economic seizure than is being discussed. Aggregate demand has already contracted sharply and runs the risk of virtual collapse, and we could potentially face economic contraction and unemployment figures both in double digits. This will contribute to decreased fiscal capacity, making economic recovery more difficult, if possible at all, and further exacerbate social fallout and instability.
Most dangerously, many businesses may fold or significantly contract operations, severely curtailing the economy's absorptive capacity.
As it stands, spending would likely take years to get back to the already depressed levels of 2019. The economy needs to be shocked back to normalcy and hopefully avoid any prolonged period of economic malaise and more so, unemployment.
GORTT must creatively and innovatively utilize every single conceivable tool at their disposal (including debt) and undertake an historic fiscal intervention at least equal to the estimated GDP loss to combat this.
The response must be as swift and aggressive as the virus' arrival. GORTT must accept that it is not just individuals in the workforce that will need assistance but also businesses- and must be prepared to inject ample liquidity to ensure economic continuity.
Citizens and business owners large AND small must be assured, and quickly, that relief is forthcoming in order for them to have the confidence and comfort to continue ‘loss’ operations. We are not just facing a short term shock from CoV19, but we face the spectre of significant economic drag from an economy that was already in secular stagnation, threatening to wipe out all progress made in recent years.
We must do everything to keep the economic engine running! Many businesses, if not reassured of assistance, will simply fold up their tents which will be catastrophic to the economy. The risk of doing too much is negligible whereas the risk of doing too little is calamitous.
GORTT must seriously and creatively consider
- Further urgent cash payments directly to affected citizens
- Direct government backstop support to most affected sectors/businesses
- State sponsored, low interest business liquidity loans with conditions
- Drastically increased food security provisions
The shuttering of an economy is neither measured or orthodox. The measures we take to restart it also cannot be orthodox or measured. We must think BIG if we are to stave off an economic calamity and ensure the continuity of our economy and preservation of our way of life.
This situation must be taken seriously and treated with a very broad and strong brush now as the risks of underreaction are immeasurable.
GORTT wisely acted vigorously and aggressively to treat with the virus’ fallout. Nothing less must happen in dealing with the economic fallout.