Express Business Filler #1

THE Barkeepers and Operators Association (BOATT) is working with the Ministry of Finance to regularise thousands of bar workers who are not eligible to receive the Government’s salary relief grant because they are not registered with the National Insurance Board (NIBTT).

At a news conference on Tuesday, Finance Minister Colm Imbert indicated that talks are being held with the BOATT as it relates to assistance for them, as under the salary relief grant application, not many applied for assistance.

Imbert said only 1,000 people out of 30,000 employed by bars applied.

Speaking with the Express on the matter on Tuesday, BOATT president Sateesh Moonasar confirmed that this is true and they are feverishly working to get the workers regulated into the system.

“There are multiple reasons why workers are not eligible for NIS, but it is something that is being worked on by the bar owners, the association and ministry.”

Moonasar noted that since thousands could not apply for the salary relief grant, most workers applied for the income support grant from the Ministry of Social Development for which they are eligible.

He explained that things have been extremely hard for both the workers and owners with this second lockdown and any kind of liquidity assistance is welcome by the industry at this point.

“With the Covid numbers still in the hundreds, we know the bars have to stay the course and we are hopeful that the numbers can decrease soon, as safety is paramount,” Moonasar added.

Yacht Association has mixed feelings

At the same news conference, the Finance Minister was also asked about relief for the yachting sector which has also been impacted by the Covid-19 restrictions.

Imbert said he is hoping that the sector will be able to reopen soon.

“Talking personally as someone who has an association with that sector, I hope they can reopen soon. What the problem was is the whole transmission of the virus, especially the variants. But I am really hoping as we start to ease up restrictions and start allowing fully vaccinated persons to enter the country, we can open up the yachting sector. I really do feel them. I have been trying, but I am only one and I have to follow the doctrine of collective responsibility,” Imbert noted.

In a statement to the Express, the Yacht Services Association (YSATT) said it remains hopeful that at some point there will be relief. But the association added its members would not be holding their breath because for more than one year they have been pleading for assistance, financial or otherwise.

“While certain sectors are receiving income assistance, ours is left to languish. We can only pray that the minister’s most recent words do not ring hollow as they have since the beginning of 2021. It has been five months since he, and the then-minister of National Security, Stuart Young, promised a dialogue and steps towards some form of relief within weeks,” the statement said.

YSATT said, while in the coming months an easing of restrictions is expected, with the increase in vaccinations, for many in the marine services industry it will be a little too late.

“Businesses have shut and workers have been left without incomes. The argument of being guided by protection of collectivist action is not based in science as we have had Ministry of Health approvals for safe sea arrival protocols for nearly a year now. Grenada and other islands have been receiving yachts and sailboats since the beginning of the year,” YSATT lamented.

RECOMMENDED FOR YOU

MEMBERS of the retail sector are making an “urgent and desperate” plea to the Government for all malls and retail outlets to be reopened by the end of July as vaccination availability continues to expand.

Shell Trinidad and Tobago yesterday announced the start of natural gas production from its Block 5C, off the east coast of Trinidad, which it expects to peak at about 220 million standard cubic feet per day (mmscf/d).

Shell’s announcement of first gas from Block 5C, known as the Project Barracuda, comes amid heightened interest in the fate of Atlantic LNG’s Train 1, following reports that the first LNG facility in T&T, commissioned in 1999, will be mothballed “in the coming weeks and could stay out of service for at least two years”.

THE cost of steel products used in construction has increased by an estimated 40 per cent in some hardware stores as result of higher freight prices coupled with a global shortage of steel.

ROCK HARD Cement Ltd has failed in its judicial review claim against Government’s decision to impose a quota and a 50 per cent increase in the import duties of cement.