FLASHBACK... Food vendors ply their trade on the busy streets of Chaguanas, pre-COVID-19 crisis. (Image: SHIRLEY BAHADUR)

The Couva Point Lisas Chamber of Commerce (CPLCC) is calling on Government to ease restrictions so small food vendors can operate a take-away service.

Speaking with Guardian Media on Tuesday, CPLCC President Ramchand Rajbal Maraj, said many persons are under severe economic strain as a result of the current COVID-19 crisis.

Mr Rajbal Maraj reports that many persons have called the chamber following Government’s decision to reduce the opening days and hours for hardware stores. He maintains that if social distancing was a problem with hardware stores, dealers should have been advised.  He also argues there is a need for businesses to open shop.

“I think we can relax the situation for the food outlets,” he told us. “If that could be relaxed for take out situations. We need to have an exit strategy for people who operate those kinds of businesses. The economy is really in a terrible state, both globally and nationally. There needs to be an ease of the squeeze so people can breathe a little easier, while maintaining social distances.”

The Couva Chamber President said the collapse of oil prices was a terrible blow for the global community.

He also expressed concern that the agriculture sector was not recognised or represented on the recently appointed Committee tasked with creating a recovery plan for the country, post-COVID-19.  According to Mr Rajbal Maraj, the food production and agro-processing sectors must be considered as part of any strategy for economic diversification.

He also observed that while the committee consists of a cadre of those he calls “recycled individuals”, the chamber would have liked to see young economists such as Mala Dookran, Omardath Maharaj, Dr Roger Hosein and Dr Valmiki Arjoon contributing their expertise on this committee.