2772288
Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley, MP, responding to a question from the Opposition during the sitting of Parliament yesterday

SHALIZA HASSANALI

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley is expected to receive his first report from T&T’s Road Map Committee on how to deal with the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic on May 8.

The 20-member committee also hopes to submit the final report to Rowley by June 2, the committee’s chairman, Public Utilities Minister Robert Le Hunte said yesterday.

Le Hunte is one of two vice-chairmen appointed to the committee. The other is former National Gas Company chairman Gerry Brooks.

Le Hunte admitted May 8 was the deadline given by Rowley for the committee to come up with a short term plan to address issues affecting citizens and the business sector during the pandemic.

“So the groups have been out having meetings with relevant organisations and stakeholders. They are getting submissions from people. We are taking a consultative approach on a daily basis,” Le Hunte told Guardian Media

He said while a lot of people have been giving suggestions, they have to work with speed given the short time they have to deliver the first report.

The committee has been divided into 15 sub-sectors to examine construction, agriculture, energy, manufacturing, retail and distribution and banking and insurance. Others will focus on capital expenditure, revenue enhancement and cash flow management.

Le Hunte said he had a fruitful meeting with the T&T Chamber of Commerce and the labour movement yesterday. Meetings were also held with the energy and construction sectors to ascertain where they are, how they could assist and what help they needed. (See page 7)

Since Rowley’s announcement of the road map committee two weeks ago, Le Hunte said they had been working feverishly to chart a new way forward.

“The two vice-chairs are focused on a short term agenda, which is jump-starting the economy under the sub-headings of employment, creating employment, maintaining employment levels, increasing aggregate demand and supply and leaving no one behind,” he said.

“The members have recognised how much work it has been. But most of the members see it as a labour of love because they are trying to jump-start the economy, which is critical. That has been the focus of our short term report.”

Following these meetings, Le Hunte said the head of each sub-sector committee will meet with the PM today to give him a progress report.

He said on May 8 the committee will submit its first short term road map plan to Rowley and on June 2 the final report.

“What we are trying to do is remodel, retool and transform the economy, which is another aspect of the work but we have been trying to be very focused in this first report. When this report comes it will be about executing the recommendations put forward.”

Le Hunte assured the report will not be theoretical but practical.

“It’s not going to be about analysis as to why we got here. It is about projects…it is about what we need to do and do it swiftly.”

In going forward, he said tough decisions will have to be made.

“We have to fashion what we could do in the confines of our existing environment.”

He said he was very proud of the committee’s dedication and commitment.

Questioned about the Oxford University ranking T&T as the second most prepared country to roll back COVID-19 restrictions, Le Hunte said the rating was an endorsement of Government’s decisiveness actions, adding the rating was a collaborative effort by the majority of citizens. (See page 6)

The survey was undertaken to provide a cross-national overview of which countries met four out of six recommendations for relaxing physical distancing. The university assessed four areas – cases control, test, trace and isolate, manage import cases and community understanding. But there was no data on vulnerable settings and preventative measure in workplaces. Out of 145 countries assessed, T&T placed second behind Vietnam.