Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley, MP, responding to a question from the Opposition during the sitting of Parliament yesterday

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley was unable to say on Wednesday whether Government intends to assist small and medium-sized enterprises with their rental payments.

UNC MP Ramona Ramdial asked Rowley about the issue in Parliament.

He said the Finance Minister had undertaken several initiatives to bring relief to the business community including small/medium enterprises,.

“This matter is still under consideration and I’m not in a position to say what it will be in the end. But we made a lot of provisions to bring relief,” he said.

If the matter of rental arises and a decision has to be taken, Rowley said he was sure a decision would be done by Finance.

On whether grants could be given to such businesses instead of loans, Rowley said Government’s money had contracted very much and any request would have to consider the ability to fund items.

“But it can’t be said we didn’t try to bring relief to this category,“ he said, adding that if there was further relief that can be made available, it would be examined.

Rowley also said he was unaware of allegations that T&T was involved in trading with energy interests in Venezuela in contravention of United States sanctions imposed against that country.

The Prime Minister confirmed health economist Prof Karl Theodore was asked by the Finance Ministry to do an immediate assessment of T&T’s circumstances amid the COVID-19 situation.

He said that working paper was discussed by Cabinet and now formed part of the work of the Recovery Roadmap team.

But Rowley refused Opposition MP Bhoe Tewarie’s appeals for the working paper be laid in Parliament.

He said the recovery team would consult “widely” with the national community and produce a final document which he said he expected would be presented to Parliament. The contents of Theodore’s paper would be in that.

He said he did not see the need to give Theodore’s document to the Opposition in Parliament to dissect.

“If you wanted to get the document, you wouldn’t have voted against me talking (about COVID 19 some time ago ) in the first place,” Rowley groused.

He also did not give a requested update on the total expenditure incurred so far on the COVID-19 crisis.

Rowley said the Finance Minister gave a figure on Monday.