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Old Harbour businesses feel SOE pinch

Published:Tuesday | September 17, 2019 | 12:15 AMCecelia Campbell-Livingston/Gleaner Writer

Old Harbour is usually abuzz with activity going into the wee hours of the morning. With a host of restaurants, clubs and other businesses, it would seem as if the town never sleeps.

That was until the state of emergency (SOE) was declared in St Catherine and neighbouring Clarendon nearly two weeks ago.

The crippling effects on businesses were immediately seen with popular night eateries and entertainment spots having to adhere to the 9 p.m. closure restrictions at just the time when most of their customers would be walking in.

Last Thursday, members of the business community met with South Western St Catherine Member of Parliament Everald Warmington, who is also a state minister in the Office of the Prime Minister, in a bid to have their concerns addressed.

Among the business operators at the meeting were Old Harbour Chamber of Commerce President Adrian Samuda.

“As the president of the Old Harbour Chamber of Commerce, I deemed it necessary to ignite this flame. Meeting with the business community recently on their concerns has allowed me ways to formulate a strategy going forward. My plans are to re-energise, rebrand, redefine the vision and identify goals to achieve over the next 12 months,” Samuda said.

He expressed concern that business operators who took out loans to expand or to keep their enterprises alive could suffer if they are not able to earn enough to service their debts. Some could also find themselves in a bind, having to pay their staff with reduced cash flow.

“Although we welcome the great acts of the Government with the SOE, it is a fact that Old Harbour’s crime rate is not as [high] as May Pen and Spanish Town,” Patricia Garib, secretary for the chamber of commerce, told The Gleaner.

She said the business community is hoping that Warmington, to whom they presented a proposal, would be taking their concerns to Parliament today.