SoE Will Hurt Christmas Sales…Plus, No Nightlife!

7 October 2011

Differing perspectives on the impact of the SOE on business activity. One businessman expected a removal of the curfew altogether

The business community has mixed reactions to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s decision to maintain the period of the State of Emergency, and in particular retain curfew hours.

“We agree with that decision 100 per cent,” said president of the San Fernando Business Association Daphne Bartlett in a telephone interview yesterday. “Those are the sentiments of every single person we’ve been able to interact with. In fact some of them have expressed that they would like the curfew to last forever in Trinidad. Yes we have concerns for the night businesses, but I think even the owners of night businesses are thinking safety comes first. 11 p.m. is not bad for a curfew, and people don’t shop after ten. We don’t think there will be an impact on retail trade, except in the food business, and the extension of the curfew (until 11 p.m.) has allowed for that,” she added.

San Juan Business Association president Abrahim Ali, however, had a different opinion. Speaking to the Express via telephone, he said, “What we were hoping is that they reconsider the curfew hours. As a matter of fact we were thinking that they’d remove the curfew totally. What the police can effect with the State of Emergency, they don’t need any curfew to do it, and the curfew is stagnating the economy.

“There is no nightlife in the country. Everybody knows that money is spent in the night hours. The economy is already down.”

Ali added that the continuation of the State of Emergency and curfew will impact the Christmas season “tremendously.” “When you go into Christmas time with that lack of confidence in the economy, you will have people importing less, not investing, less business, and in effect, less employment. Stores won’t hire more people because they will feel from now that the economy will not pick up for Christmas. It will be a very slow Christmas season.”

President of the Downtown Merchants Association (DOMA), Gregory Aboud, said his organisation was concerned that the National Security administrators felt it necessary to continue the State of Emergency and curfew. “The prolonged use of a State of Emergency is cause for concern for any observer regarding the ability of law enforcement agencies to use what is available to them without the State of Emergency to keep our country safe. We feel very strongly that new management models are required to deliver service in the area of national security. The current model of management is not working as it should. We feel very strongly that the government needs to perhaps reconsider the method by which service is delivered, and infusing the current model with performance, management and merit. Once that is done we feel strongly that there will be no need for any continuation of any curfew or State of Emergency.

The State of Emergency and curfew is expected to continue until November 7.


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