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Secretary of Finance and the Economy Joel Jack said a $300 million loan facility can be accessed by Tobago businesses as he predicted a decline in a number of sectors due to the covid19 pandemic.
At the weekly post Executive Council media briefing on Wednesday at the Victor E Bruce Financial Complex in Scarborough, Jack said, “We anticipate at least a decline by over 60 per cent: distribution and restaurants again would be impacted severely; the manufacturing, transport and communications and other important sectors would all be impacted negatively in fiscal 2020; we anticipate that finance, insurance, real estate and the business sector would see a moderate decline of 1.7 per cent, however the government services which contributes to approximately 44 per cent of economic activities on the island would see a marginal increase of just one per cent as government expenditures is projected to increase void by social welfare spending and other contributions to the vulnerable in society.”
Additionally, Jack anticipates a modest increase in agriculture of slightly under two per cent.
In the interim, the division will continue to monitor the economic situation locally, regionally, and internationally to anticipate the likely impact on Tobago’s economy.
“So, in 2012, the Tobago economy at constant prices stood at $1.71 billion, as at 2019, the initial projection stood at $1.77 billion.
“We continue to track the performance of the Assembly to monitor all the macroeconomics indicators as it relates to what is happening here on the island and ready to provide and share the information,” he said adding that the Assembly has received updated information form the Central Statistical Office as well as the Central Bank, in addition to the data provided by the finance division.
Jack said a loan facility managed by First Citizens and Republic Bank is now available. He said it was Government’s intention to implement a $300 million loan facility to help mitigate the impact of the covid19 pandemic on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) on the island.
“This facility would provide soft loans to the SME sector over a four-year period with a two-year moratorium on all payments. This would be an interest-free loan and would provide the much-needed support to the SME sector and those persons who we are well aware…have been negatively impacted by the pandemic. This would provide the necessary financial injection to aid in operating and payroll expenses.”
Jack said the initiative is “needed, it’s important, it’s vital to the survival of a number of businesses on the island.
“This initiative would also allow for businesses…will provide them with the opportunity to provide for the future and allow them to retool and recover.
“Businesses with an annual turnover of $1 million to $30 million would be able to access funding from $75,000 up to $325,000 and enjoy the benefits of having the government stand as guarantor for up to 75 per cent of the loan.”