Paula Gopee-Scoon

Rishard Khan

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Many of the 16,547 micro, small and medium enterprises in T&T which employs around 90,000 persons have already restarted operations according to Minister of Trade and Industry Paula Gopee-Scoon.

Speaking during a Ministry of Health virtual press conference yesterday, Scoon said: “We remain particularly concerned of the impact of COVID on the MSMEs given their important contribution to the economy.”

However, she assured that she has been meeting with the various chambers of commerce to address various issues arising out of the pandemic; especially the MSMEs.

She also noted that a look at data from the Central Statistical Office as well as the various sectors indicate that “a considerable amount of MSMEs are already back in business and persons engaged in employment in those sectors and subsectors.”

Minister Gopee-Scoon also indicated that the main challenge now is getting all the various businesses businesses back on track in the shortest possible period “without eroding the gains made in maintaining the public health environment over the last two months.”

She cautioned that this was an important consideration going forward.

“People talk about ensuring lives (are preserved) and we must move on to livelihoods but one does not exist without the other. Because you can’t have livelihoods without lives, customers will come into your organization…you must have lives in order to maintain livelihoods,” Gopee-Scoon said.

Minister Gopee-Scoon also added that the manufacturing sector is going be look at to diversify the country’s economy away from traditional oil and gas.

“The manufacturing sector works well and therefore that’s the place to go,” she said.

She also said the agriculture sector is another viable option for expansion in the attempt to diversify the economy.