The country’s major business groups yesterday took the bull by the horns as they submitted proposals to the Government to help save the economy and protect jobs during the current COVID-19 crisis.
AMCHAM T&T, Energy Chamber of T&T, T&T Chamber of Industry & Commerce, T&T Manufacturers’ Association and the Confederation of Regional Chambers acknowledged that the majority of businesses are suffering near total collapse and as a result, thousands of individuals are facing a fall in income and possible job losses.
They are recommending that the Government supports the retention of employment through tax credit on salaries for companies who realise no profits during this period. The business groups are also proposing that for each employee that the registered businesses keep on the payroll through the next three months (April-June), the Government grants an additional tax credit (of between 100%-150%) of the first $6,000 of the employee’s salary. They said this tax credit can be applied proportionally over a three-year period starting in the third quarter of 2020.
The proposal may well be a win-win for the Government, business and employees, as it offers job protection for employees in this uncertain time.
Business is also proposing that the Government extends income support to the self-employed and their employees, under the same terms as the Salary Relief Grant to retrenched employees, once these businesses and their employees register with the BIR.
This will have the effect of bringing more unregistered businesses into the tax net, capturing those who otherwise would not have been paying taxes and assist with the rebuilding of Government revenue once business and social activity return to some level of normalcy.
These suggestions appear to have been well thought out and could provide protection for everyone, even for those small family-based businesses who may themselves now be wondering how they will survive with no income coming in.
The business community is also asking that Government consider a deferral of Corporation Tax and Value-added Tax payments for the upcoming period until June 2020.
Business groups must be commended for taking the initiative in putting forward such a plan in this time of crisis.
Whether the Government gives active consideration to these proposals is left to be seen, but if it will help the country and the economy in the long run, why not? The Government really has little to lose at this stage. These proposals from some of the best minds in the business sector may be exactly what is needed to keep the economy going and provide a cushion as the country navigates these turbulent waters.
We thus hope that the Government will meet with business and help chart a course that in the long run will be to the ultimate benefit of all of us.
What business has done is present a plan for survival, one which, if the Government thinks it through, may well save the country from an economic disaster when this COVID disaster is over.