Friday 3 April, 2020

UNC on PM’s COVID-19 speech: Right idea, wrong approach

Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar says she doesn’t disagree with the measures put forward by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley to deal with COVID-19 in Trinidad and Tobago, but she is concerned about the methods he’s decided to employ. 

Speaking at a virtual press conference on Tuesday, Persad Bissessar said that the government needs to take more substantive and legislative measures when enforcing their new protocols. She says ‘moral suasion’ won’t be enough in such a serious situation. 

“As the parliamentary opposition, we understand that a legislative package will have to come to parliament for more than one reason. They will have to do with putting into legal effect and therefore enforcement, the restrictions on human behavior that are being suggested,” she said. 

The Opposition Leader says especially when it comes to the likely drawdown of funds from the Heritage and Stabilisation Fund, she’d like to see the what the government is proposing. 

“In principle again, we have no objections to that, but we would have to see the actual wording of that piece of legislation and again, see if it is feasible and see if it is best,” she continued. 

She says she wants to ensure that checks and balances will be written in to be satisfied that the money used from the drawdown is specifically used to combat COVID-19. 

Asked whether she’s still open to dialogue with the PM despite his lack of response to her request, Persad Bissessar says her door is still very much open for anything that could work to the benefit of Trinidad and Tobago. She believes a bi-partisan team would lead to the most positive outcome. 

What about the economy? 

One of Persad Bissessar’s main concerns is the government’s handling of the economy.  

Calling their handling of the economy so far as a nosedive, she mused on the government’s initiatives to stabilise the economy, considering the impact that COVID-19 may have. 

Former Minister of Planning, Dr Bhoendradatt Tewarie echoed her sentiments, encouraging the government to revisit some of their suggestions that non-essential businesses close for the next 14 days. 

He says unless the government is prepared to help small businesses to manage their financial shortfalls, they should consider the likelihood that many people run the risk of losing their jobs should they remain closed. 

He’s calling for legislative and financial framework to curb these instances. 


What you can do 

Former Health Minister, Dr Fuad Khan says in order to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus, citizens need to be more mindful of their bodily secretions; particularly through coughs and sneezes. 

Dr Khan says simple measures like coughing into your sleeve instead of into your hands can suppress the virus. He also implored the public to use paracetamol to treat their symptoms if they suspect being infected with COVID-19.  

He says citizens should avoid the use of NSAID drugs and steroids for coronavirus related symptoms. 

As of Tuesday, March 17, Trinidad and Tobago has five confirmed, imported cases of COVID-19. 

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