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The T&T Chamber is commending Government for its most recent measures announced to mitigate the economic and social impact of the current COVID-19 outbreak in this country.

The Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce has welcomed the initial VAT refunds by the Government and the loan deferral system implemented by the banks but it contends more needs to be done for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).

In a release yesterday, the Chamber noted: “While the various initiatives announced, including the loan payment deferrals and interest reductions by the banks, are positive measures, additional mechanisms may be needed to address the MSME sector.”

The Chamber said over the past week up to the weekend, it had been receiving numerous calls from members and non-members —many from small businesses—regarding their own challenges in operating in this uncertain environment.

It said not all businesses may be in a VAT refund position and as such, will not benefit from the planned VAT payment and therefore some form of assistance needs to be provided to other small businesses.

The T&T Chamber said it has pleaded for a tax deferral for corporation tax, VAT, Business Levy and Green Fund Levy to assist the micro, small and medium-sized businesses, as many of them do not have the capital base to weather this storm and therefore need additional support if they are going to be around in one, two or three months.

While the Chamber said it continues to be encouraged by the Government’s strong leadership in addressing the current challenges arising from COVID-19, it expressed concern that an economic slow down was being experienced across many sectors.

The Chamber said Government’s approach to the present crisis is going in the right direction.

“The emphasis on relief for citizens and businesses is well placed and shows the sensitivity in decision-making that is required at this time.

“It is important to recognise that there will be life after COVID-19 and we are satisfied that the present measures take this into consideration,” it observed.