The American Chamber of Commerce of Trinidad & Tobago (AMCHAM T&T) believes Government needs to go a little further in its mitigation efforts against the economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis, and work with the business community and labour on job preservation and business survival.
AMCHAM T&T expressed the sentiments in an official statement, issued earlier today.
The business lobby also recommended that government consider forgiveness of some corporate taxes, at least for the First Quarter of 2020.
The full text of AMCHAM T&T’s statement, follows…
AMCHAM T&T’s COMMENT ON PM’s NEWS CONFERENCE ON COVID-19
We understand that this is a very difficult and unprecedented set of circumstances for the Government and the entire world.
As such, yesterday, the Joint Chambers appealed to members to do what they could to maintain jobs in this difficult time. We encouraged business to employ tele -work or work from home options and went further by saying in a media release: “The Chambers support the suggestion that businesses look at creative options to maintain operations during the period, with the aim of preserving jobs and keeping businesses alive.”
We applaud the banks for stepping up and reducing rates and being flexible with payments in this very difficult time. However, we were a little surprised that the government did not announce specific measures to collaborate with businesses around job preservation.
Such measures could have ranged from forgiveness of Green Fund and Business Levy payments this quarter as these are taxes on revenue as opposed to profit; deferral of corporation taxes to assist with cash flow; to partial support for salary payment for extended leave through tax credits; partial accelerated NIS support or grants for micro, small and medium enterprises.
What we did hear was that Government will be paying to businesses what is long outstanding anyway, without specifics on timelines or terms.
We re-iterate that AMCHAM T&T and our members are committed to working together with all to weather this unprecedented crisis. We continue to be willing and available to work on specifics with all stakeholders and will collaborate with our members to reduce as much of the impact as is practical on the wider society.