THE Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers’ Association (TTMA) is asking Finance Minister Colm Imbert to consider salary relief grants to almost half of manufacturing sector employees who have been affected in one way or the other by Covid-19.
In a statement on Wednesday evening, the TTMA said while it welcomed supplementary funding in sectors such as health, agriculture, national security and social development as announced in the mid-year budget review, it wanted salary relief grants for 47 per cent of 53,000 manufacturing workers who have been affected by the current restrictions under the State of Emergency.
Further, the TTMA said there was the need to address VAT refund delays businesses are experiencing once again, thus alleviating cash flow challenges, especially for businesses belonging to the small and medium-sizes sector (SME).
“TTMA appreciates the assistance received last year to allow injections into the flow of VAT returns. Unfortunately, the bottlenecks are building up again. There is a need to address this matter on a sustainable level and thus we are asking for consideration of recommendations of net off, and or removal of VAT on imported raw material as a means to resolving the matter on a permanent basis,” the statement said.
Support needed for the smallest
Also commenting on the mid-year budget review, president of the Greater San Fernando Area Chamber of Commerce Kiran Singh said the chamber expected more focus to be put on providing more tangible assistance to small businesses.
Singh said financial services offered by the National Entrepreneurship Development Company (NEDCO) should be more heavily advertised in print, electronic and social media, as the micro-enterprise sector is in desperate need of financial assistance and is largely unaware of the services accessible through NEDCO.
Many will go out of business permanently
The chamber also believes that the time is now to use the Heritage and Stabilisation Fund (HSF), to assist the micro, small and medium (MSM) enterprise sector, along with concessions to be granted by electricity provider T&TEC for businesses who are not operational at this time, a statement said.
The Confederation of Regional Business Chambers coordinator Jai Leladharsingh on Wednesday agreed that if Government does not lend liquidity support to the SME sector, many will go out of business permanently. Leladharsingh said after listening to Imbert in Parliament on Wednesday speak about revenue inflows and global pricing of primary commodities, he hoped that the Minister would also address the burning issues of direct assistance to the SME sector.
“As it stands right now many small and medium-sized businesses would not be able to reopen doors, once the restrictions are lifted. That’s why the liquidity support for the sector is very important as only essential businesses are open at this time,” he said.