In case you missed it, here are the Key Points from today’s Virtual Media Conference on COVID-19 – Saturday June 27th 2020:

  • Minister of Health, Terrence Deyalsingh confirmed that two more returning nationals on board the Enchantment of the Seas cruise ship have tested Positive for COVID-19. They have been transferred to the Caura Hospital.
  • Twenty deportees (18 males, 2 females) have returned to T&T from the US and are quarantined. The two females are housed at UWI Debe Campus and the 18 male deportees are quarantined at Vision on Mission in Claxton Bay.
  • 1,793 Community Tests administered throughout Trinidad and Tobago with all returning negative for COVID-19.
  • The Ministry of Health is considering stricter measures to be imposed on bars to curtail the types of behaviour being observed there.
  • The Minister of Finance, Colm Imbert, spoke on the Salary Relief and Fuel Grants, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises, the Loan Programme, Tax Refunds and the Credit Union Loan Programme.
  • Minister Imbert said to date, 25,101 persons have received additional Food Card support at a cost of $17.14 million. He also said 29,399 more citizens, who were not in the system but needed assistance as a result of losing their income during this period, were given food support at a cost of $45 million. Total additional support through the Food Card system is $64 million so far.
  • 20,500 persons with children on the School Feeding Programme were assisted at a cost of $31.4 million.
  • There are 26,000 Permanent Food Card users in T&T. This has cost Government $146 million.
  • The Ministry of Social Development and Family Services (MSDFS) has assisted 17,824 persons on Public and Disability Assistance through Top-Ups at a cost of $11.4 million.
  • The MSDFS has also provided Food Support to 2,818 persons who applied for their Senior Citizens Pensions but are yet to receive them as they are still being processed. This has cost $12.6 million.
  • The MSDFS has provided Food Support to 500 new persons who applied for Disability Assistance. This has cost Government $1.5 million.
  • Emergency hampers are being provided to 1,400 families at a cost of $500,000. Market boxes have also been provided to 11,900 families at a cost of $3 million.
  • Rental assistance has been provided to 1,133 families at a cost of $4.8 million.
  • The MSDFS is coordinating with the Office of the Prime Minister to provide funding to religious organisations to assist the needy in their communities. So far, 67 umbrella religious organisations have been assisted at a cost of $9.7 million. Of the 67 religious organisations, 34 groups have distributed 41,314 hampers.
  • As at June 24th 2020, 26,000 persons have received Salary Relief Grants for the month of April. So far, 16,500 citizens have received Salary Relief Grants for the month of May with more processing taking place.
  • So far, 29,000 Income Support Payments have been processed.
  • The Ministry of Works and Transport has provided funding for a Fuel Grant for maxi taxi/taxi operators at a cost of $21 million. Processing of applications is ongoing.
  • So far, $1.7 billion in tax refunds has been issued. The first tranche of VAT bonds was completed at a cost of $1 billion. Cabinet has also approved a second tranche for $2 billion which should be issued in the next few weeks. This is in addition to cash refunds issued for individual income tax refunds, Corporation Tax refunds and VAT refunds in cash at a cost of $700 million.
  • In order to keep jobs, Government is implementing the SME Loan Programme (interest-free loans for Small and Medium Enterprises). The Programme will start next week with the first loan expected to be processed next Thursday. Government is paying all interest on these loans, which will range from $75,000 to $325,000 depending on the size of the organisation.
  • $100 million provided to Credit Unions for their members for loans up to $5,000 a month. A further $100 million for small businesses will be provided. More details to follow.