Speaking at a post cabinet media briefing on Wednesday afternoon, The Honourable, Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley announced several measures to assist vulnerable citizens that would be affected by the secondary effects of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Key points listed:
- Reduction in the Repo rate and the deposit requirement for banks will immediately place $2.7B of needed liquidity into the financial system.
- China is donating 15 sets of body temperature monitors, 4,000 COVID-19 diagnostic kits, PPE gear and access to medical assistance.
- Assistance Grants to be ‘topped up’ for initial period of three (3) months.
- Rental Assistance for workers displaced as a result of the impacts of COVID-19.
- Increase allocation for Foreign Exchange into the system.
- Increases in Food Card allocations to existing beneficiaries between $150 – $450 depending on size of household.
- Similar approaches being made to registered money lender, TTMF and NEDCO.
- Credit Card interest rates will be reduced by 10points to 14% during this period of difficulty.
- Government seeking to support credit unions to bring interest rate down form 12% to 6%.
- Rotation system being considered for first responders and front line medical staff.
- Reserve requirement reduced from 17% to 14%. This has made an additional $2.7B available for lending at a lower interest rate.
- Social support systems to expanded to help the vulnerable cope with the economic burden.
- Close to $25,000 masks and other PPE received by NIPDEC today.
- A delay in the sitting of SEA, CXC and CAPE are now expected. Further details to be confirmed.
- Banks have agreed to defer loan instalment due in the coming month to help citizens cope with this unexpected crisis.
- Additional funds to be allocated to Tobago hotels to allow for upgrades which in turn will create employment and consumption.
- Hospital capacity proving itself. All 68 returning cruise ship passengers have been absorbed seamlessly into the health system.
- ‘Skip Payment’ initiative to be implemented on all commercial bank loan commitments.
- TTMT and TT Chamber of Commerce agree to get members to preserve jobs.
- Government to accelerate payments of monies owed to contractors, suppliers and businesses to assist with liquidity.
- Hoteliers to benefit for upgrade finance assistance during this slowdown. This will also stimulate job creations.
See below the official media release of the Financial and Economic Support Measures: