Sunday 25 October, 2020

Kamla proposes Wage Subsidy Programme for post-COVID-19 plan

Opposition leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar proposed a Wage Subsidy Programme to assist small businesses weather the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a statement issued via social media, Persad-Bissessar accused Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh of under-testing for COVID-19 to hide its spread.

'In March, they shut down the country, causing an immediate widespread, national hunger crisis. Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh also deliberately under-tested the population to hide the true incidence of the Covid-19 local spread.'

On July 29, 2020, the Ministry of Health said almost 400 samples had been submitted for testing, the largest number of tests in any one day to date. 

On July 30, the Ministry said seven more people tested positive for the virus, bringing the number of active cases to 26 and the overall total to 164 - 311 more samples were also submitted for testing. As of July 30, 2020, 7,716 samples had been submitte for testing.

Persad-Bissessar said the UNC's COVID-19 plan has proposed a six-month Wage Subsidy Programme 'to help the small business community survive the serious financial losses they’ve suffered'.

'This aims to prevent any further layoffs and business closures, and save about 50,000 jobs almost immediately, especially in retail, entertainment, professional services, restaurant/food and hospitality businesses. It will also give many micro-businesses and workers an opportunity to register and regularize themselves as part of the formal economy.'

She outlined the plan as follows: 

Plan: 75% Wage Subsidy up to the Minimum Wage per Employee

Cost per: $17.50 x 8hrs x 22days = $3,080.00

Subsidy: $2,310.00 per worker

Target: 50,000 Jobs

Total Cost: TT$693M (TT$115.5M per month)

Possible Dates: September 2020 to February 2021

Unit: Ministry of Finance

She said she previously presented a written plan with five pillars to deal with this crisis, which included protecting the vulnerable, economy and citizens’ social net and standard of living.

'Now is the time to come together to rescue and rebuild Trinidad and Tobago’s economic, health and social stability.'

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