Daily Brief - Wednesday 25th March, 2020

NEWS

Chambers, ECA support Govt's call to stay home

Chairman of the Employers Consultative Association of TT Keston Nancoo is supporting calls from Government for people to limit leaving their homes to avoid contracting or spreading covid19. Speaking with Newsday on Tuesday, Nancoo said the public should understand the gravity of the situation. He said everyone had a responsibility to be safe while maintaining the safety of others. Read more here

Laid-off workers crowd NIB for salary grants

Scores of people turned up in front of the National Insurance Board of T&T (NIBTT) in San Fernando yesterday seeking to apply for the salary relief grant for workers who lost their jobs as a result of measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Finance Minister Colm Imbert on Monday announced that people who lost their jobs will be able to access a grant of $1,500 a month for three months. When contacted yesterday, NIBTT informed Guardian Media that the grant was not yet available to members of the public. “Please do not visit our offices to enquire about this facility, as large gatherings pose a serious risk to our employees, customers and members of the public,” stated NIBTT in a subsequent media release. NIBTT, however, assured that “as soon as this facility is available and operationalized, further public communication by the organization will follow.” Read more here

 

POLITICS

PDC wants meeting with Khan

The Petroleum Dealers Co-operative Ltd (PDC) on Tuesday said it wants to meet with Energy Minister Franklin Khan to resolve issues involving a new lubricants contract with National Petroleum Marketing Company Ltd (NPMC). The PDC is responsible for supply in lubricants to NPMC’s service stations but play no role in the supply of gasoline to the public. In a statement, the PDC said contrary to Khan’s statements on Monday, its decision for its workers to temporarily stop operations at gas stations because of the covid19 pandemic were not related to negotiations for a new contract with NPMC. The PDC said it took the decision in keeping with the efforts of the Government, led by the Prime Minister, to contain and combat the spread of covid19. Read more here

Deyalsingh tells public stay home as COVID cases at 57

Trinidad and Tobago’s COVID-19 cases are rolling faster. The number of cases increased by six in the space of one day—going from 51 on Monday to 53 by midday yesterday and 57 by 4 pm on Tuesday. The latest numbers announced by the Health Ministry yesterday included T&T’s first case of a person who was a primary contact of—and was in close proximity to —a relative who recently travelled abroad. The relative was an imported COVID case. The cases also include two more people who’d been on the same Caribbean cruise from which 68 other nationals recently returned. The current two returned separately from the 68. And an imported case who arrived in Tobago from the United Kingdom was transferred to Trinidad on Tuesday. Read more here

 

BUSINESS

Chamber: More should be done for MSMEs

The Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce has welcomed the initial VAT refunds by the Government and the loan deferral system implemented by the banks but it contends more needs to be done for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs). In a release yesterday, the Chamber noted: “While the various initiatives announced, including the loan payment deferrals and interest reductions by the banks, are positive measures, additional mechanisms may be needed to address the MSME sector.” The Chamber said over the past week up to the weekend, it had been receiving numerous calls from members and non-members —many from small businesses—regarding their own challenges in operating in this uncertain environment. Read more here

NCB: We won $1.5b bond bid fair and square

New questions are being asked about the $1.5 billion bond that NCB Global Finance Ltd, the 100 per cent owned subsidiary of Jamaica’s NCB Financial Group, raised for the Government on March 16. Read more here

 

REGIONAL

Exxon continuing operations

EXXONMOBIL is continuing its operations, both on and offshore Guyana, with special health measures in place due to COVID-19, but current travel restrictions in place in Guyana and other key countries have impacted normal operations in the Stabroek Block. Should the worldwide restrictions continue, the company has put in place plans to slow down drilling activities offshore Guyana. Read more here

COVID Bailout - Axed Workers To Get Payouts As Clarke Warns To Prepare For The Worst

Jamaican workers who have lost their jobs because of the economic ravages of COVID-19 are eligible to receive $54,000 under the Government’s Supporting Employees with Transfer of Cash (SET Cash) programme subject to stipulated conditions. This is among a number of measures highlighted by Finance and the Public Service Minister Dr Nigel Clarke in Gordon House yesterday as he detailed the Holness administration’s $10-billion COVID contingency package to assuage the harsh effects of the novel ­coronavirus pandemic on Jamaicans. Read more here

 

INTERNATIONAL

The fallout from coronavirus will only make China's Xi Jinping more powerful

The quarantines and local-level lockdowns put in place to combat the coronavirus outbreak will likely cause Chinese economic output to decline in the first three months of the year -- the first contraction in more than four decades for what was formerly one of the world's fastest-growing economies. Though the extent and duration of the downturn will not be known for several months, it is already becoming clear that Chinese President Xi Jinping will leverage the crisis to further bolster his power as the country's leader as he seeks to return China to what he views as its rightful position as a preeminent global power. Read more here

Coronavirus: Trump seals emergency virus deal worth trillions

US President Donald Trump and the Senate have agreed a massive economic relief package worth more than $1.8 trillion (£1.5tn). The package includes money to bail out industries that have been affected by the coronavirus crisis. Republican Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell described it as a "wartime level of investment" in the economy. Markets surged in the US on Tuesday in anticipation of a deal, and shares rose in Europe and Asia on Wednesday. On Wall Street, the Dow Jones jumped by 11.4% on Tuesday - its biggest one-day gain since the Great Depression. Read more here

25th March 2020

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