Sun | Jul 12, 2020

Help needed for craft traders, others in the sector – Phillips

Published:Thursday | June 25, 2020 | 4:32 PM
People’s National Party President and Leader of the Opposition, Dr Peter Phillips - File photo

People’s National Party (PNP) President and Leader of the Opposition Dr Peter Phillips says the plight of craft vendors across the island must be urgently addressed as the economic fallout from the coronavirus has left them and their families without critical support.

Phillips says the island’s thousands of craft vendors are seeking to resume operations as the tourism industry reopens, however, months of financial hardship, owing to the closure of the sector, have taken a toll on their businesses.

Phillips, along with opposition spokesperson on tourism, Dr Wykeham McNeill, in a virtual meeting with presidents of the all island craft traders association headed by Mellody Haughton, was told that promised assistance under the COVID-19 relief programme has still not materialised three months into the crisis.

In the meeting, the craft vendors stated that as the markets have been closed for months, they have been left with no means to survive, according to Phillips.

He also said that the craft vendors also claim that while some members were granted a three-month moratorium on rents on their shops, this came to an end in May, but without an income and the slow reopening of the tourism sector, they are currently still unable to pay the rent and will need a further extension. 

The operators said their plight has been largely ignored by the government despite promises to help the sector.

“These are small operators who depend on selling in the craft market for a living. With the closure of the tourism sector, the craft industry is directly affected. The same waivers and grants that have been given to some should be extended to all. Craft vendors need to know if they will still benefit from the grants offered to other businesses.” Phillips said.

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