As Minister for Tourism, I am deeply concerned at the toll the corona pandemic is taking on our country at large, and the tourism industry.
I am, however, heartened by the quick response of the government to not only safeguard our shores, but also to put mechanisms in place to bring help and relief to a broad cross-section of the citizens who are most vulnerable, and to open the doors of opportunity for business start-up and business improvement.
I am well aware that the revenues of government are negatively affected and it will require prudent fiscal management to continue to pay the salaries of all staff in the public service, and meet new commitments to provide payroll support to a large number of persons who are out of income at this time. In addition, the necessary functions of government have to be accomplished, including the funding of Covid-19 activities.
Payroll support will be provided for a wide category of workers including hotels, restaurants, bars, public buses, tourist vendors, taxi drivers and market vendors. The details are being finalised for roll out in the shortest possible time.
It is important to note that the stimulus measures outlined by the Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, were stated to be preliminary and that further review will occur as we go forward. No one knows how long this global health crisis will persist, and as a government, we must be prudent and flexible in our approach. The Prime Minister and Minister for Finance continues to hold discussions with regional and international partners and financial institutions, such as the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), to explore further ways of bolstering the economy in the short and medium term.
The Grenada Development Bank (GDB) soft loan facility for small hotels will be significantly increased, and the requirements for qualification considerably relaxed. In addition, the other soft loan provided by the same facility has increased available funds with very favourable conditions from which the tourism sector can benefit. Besides, the ECCB under the chairmanship of Dr the Right Honourable Keith Mitchell, will be providing loans at concessionary rates to aid in the recovery process.
The Government of Grenada has come to the rescue of the tourism industry many times before, and even in the recent past has intervened to ensure that flights continue to come to our shores.
The Ministry of Tourism and the Grenada Tourism Authority are reviewing plans and preparing for a renewed tourism industry. It would require innovation, commitment and sacrifice on the part of everyone. We look forward to strengthened public-private partnership because we’re all in this together. I urge all stakeholders to work with us as we explore ways to get this critical sector back on its feet in the shortest possible time.
This is a time to put the country first, and not give in to personal persuasions. Let us ensure that whatever is put out in the public domain is factual.
I express appreciation to those in the industry who have offered advice and other means of support in these difficult times and I invite everyone to join us in this battle against Covid-19.
May God continue to bless you and keep you safe.
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