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Silvera calls for another stimulus package

Published:Thursday | January 14, 2021 | 12:23 AM

WESTERN BUREAU:

President of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MBCCI), Janet Silvera, is appealing to the Government to provide another stimulus package for seriously impacted businesses and citizens, including displaced tourism workers who have been out of work since the global shutdown in March of last year.

Speaking at a press conference in Montego Bay yesterday, Silvera noted that while business owners continue to be resilient and loyal to their employees, customers, and the community in which they operate, they are facing a great challenge.

“We are asking the Government to consider another stimulus package to tackle the gross lack of revenue, especially for the tourism sector,” said Silvera. “The livelihoods of many have been severely affected, and there are not many alternatives at this time.”

MASSIVE HIT

She pointed out that local businesses and tourist attractions in western Jamaica have experienced a drastic reduction in business, some as high as 80 per cent.

“Business owners are feeling it, and many are still trying, carrying the weight of the welfare of their employees and their families,” said Silvera. “We need the help. Businesses need stimulus to help them stay afloat and retain their employees. The [reduced] spending power of our citizens has heavily impacted the viability of our economy.”

The tourism sector took a massive hit last year, with global travel plunging as countries introduced restrictions to curb the spread of the coronavirus. More than 300,000 industry workers were impacted locally as the cruise sector also ground to a halt.

With thousands joining the unemployment line, the Government designed a $10 billion stimulus package to benefit various categories of workers, and the MBCCI believes that a second round is imperative as many children are without food and educational supplies because their parents are out of work.

A grant of $18,000 monthly was given to qualified displaced workers in the hospitality sector under the Business Employee Support and Transfer of Cash (BEST Cash) Programme for four months.

Although the sector has been gradually reopening, some operations have not yet been able to re-engage their full staff complement.

Albert Ferguson