Allyson West

RECOVERY HELP: Acting Planning Minister Allyson West holds up her signed copy of the Inter-American Development Bank loan agreement for US$24.45 million.

GOVERNMENT has signed a loan agreement with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to access US$24.45 million ($166 million) for people most affected by the Covid-19 crisis in Trinidad and Tobago.

The loan agreement was signed on Tuesday by acting Minister of Planning and Development, Allyson West, on behalf of Trinidad and Tobago, and IDB president Maurico Claver-Carone. The agreement was discussed during a bilateral meeting between West and Claver-Carone yesterday.

Both the IDB and the Ministry of Planning and Development issued news releases outlining the agreement.

“This agreement will support minimum income for those affected by the coronavirus in the immediate period and during the recovery. The agreement does not see Trinidad and Tobago taking on additional debt but instead redirects existing uncommitted loan resources to new and urgent high-priority public investment areas that require financing during this critical period,” said West in the ministry’s release.

The money from the loan will help ensure that basic quality-of-life standards for vulnerable people are maintained in the immediate period and during the economic recovery of Trinidad and Tobago.

The programme will finance two components:

(1) The expansion or additional/emergency cash transfers to beneficiaries of three existing programmes delivered by the Ministry of Social Development and Family Services (MSDFS): Food Support Programme; Senior Citizen Pension; and Disability Assistance Grant and

(2) the temporary expansion of the Food Support Programme for households where a member of the household working in the informal sector experienced a loss in income due to the Covid-19 crisis.

The IDB said the project is anticipated to benefit 25,101 existing beneficiary households of the Food Support Programme in which women are expected to represent about 60 per cent of the beneficiaries.

The loan proceeds are also anticipated to benefit:

—20,500 households with school-age children who received the School Nutrition Programme prior to the Covid-19 emergency;

—2,000 low-income persons aged 65 and over;

—500 adults 18-65 years of age who are permanently disabled from earning a livelihood; and

—39,233 households with persons who have suffered involuntary termination, suspension, or loss of income in the informal sector.

Claver-Carone pledged to continue supporting Trinidad and Tobago’s development needs by working together on digitisation, assisting small businesses affected by Covid-19, climate finance and especially highlighted the role of women in the economy and the need for breaking barriers to financing for women in business.

Minister West agreed with Claver-Carone’s remarks and further emphasised the critical role that women play in supporting the family unit in Trinidad and Tobago, pledging to work with the IDB to further empower women.

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