Trinidad and Tobago

Government and institution measures in response to COVID-19.

Government and institution measures in response to COVID-19.

Return to homepage  |  Last updated: 17 April, 2020

Employment-related measures

(e.g. compensation schemes, training…)

  • Covering 75% of the salary of employees sent into technical unemployment by companies affected by the coronavirus crisis.

Social protection measures

  • The criteria for sending employees into technical unemployment and minimum income ensured for freelancers working in industries where activity is reduced or interrupted due to the pandemic.
  • The conditions for granting free paid days to parents, in order to supervise their children during the temporary closure of educational establishments.
  • The online submission of the documentation needed in order to gain access to social benefits.
  • The measures for ensuring continuity in the granting of return to work incentives and child care allowance, as well as for facilitating access to medical leave and medical leave indemnities for quarantined persons.

Economic stimulus measures

(e.g. loans, moratorium on debt repayments…)

  • The Trinidad and Tobago Mortgage Finance and Home Mortgage Bank to begin payment deferrals for three months in the first instance.
  • The Government has asked the Housing Development Corporation and The Trinidad and Tobago Mortgage Finance Company Ltd. to defer rental and mortgage payments for one month in the first instance.
  • Interest rates on credit cards will be reduced by amounts ranging from 10% to 17% of the existing rates, on a bank by bank basis. This means that First Citizens Bank, for example, has agreed to reduce its credit card interest rate from 24% to 20% and Republic Bank will reduce its interest rate from 24% to 21%, and so on. It should be noted that this position on credit card interest rates was erroneously communicated in the discussions held over the last two days, where it was communicated in error that rates would be reduced by 10 percentage points to 14%. The banks have also been requested to make further reductions in credit card interest rates for small businesses and affected individuals.
  • The Central Bank announced a reduction in the reserve requirement for the commercial banks from 17% to 14% and a reduction in the repo rate by 150 basis points from 5.0% to 3.5%. These actions will inject an additional $2.6 billion in increased liquidity into the commercial banking system and as a result, we have been advised by the commercial banks that this should cause an immediate reduction in the prime lending rate of 1.5 percentage points to 7.75%.
  • The commercial banks drop their prime lending rates further to 6% and to reduce the spread between lending rates and deposit rates.
  • The commercial banks have agreed to provide a one-month moratorium (skip a payment) on mortgage loan and instalment loan payments, without any penalty and to waive penalty interest on overdraft facilities.
  • The allocation of Foreign Exchange to be increased for the purchase of essential items such as pharmaceuticals and basic food items.
  • Government will provide $100 million to the Credit Union movement to allow them to provide loans to their members at favorable interest rates with a long repayment period beginning after the situation normalize- The objective of the program would be to provide liquidity support to individuals and those small businesses who qualify for credit union loans. Individuals and businesses who access the program will be expected to repay the loans advanced to them within 12 months after the end of the affected period. These loans will attract a reduced interest rate of 50% of the existing credit union interest rate, i.e. from 12% to 6%, and will be supported with funding from the government.
  • Government will provide $50 million as part of a grant facility for Tobago hoteliers to upgrade their premises. Government will also supplement the THA’s Enterprise Development Facility with up to an additional $5 million.

Other measures and sources

  • A Salary Relief Grant will be provided to citizens who have lost income as a result of the impact of COVID-19. They will have access to $1500 per month over a three-month period from the National Insurance Board.
  • Food Card support of $510.00 per month for three months for households where a family member was retrenched, terminated or income reduced during this period.
  • The Government will pay all persons who are owed income tax refunds of $20,000 or less next week.
  • Government to increase social services grants and the number of available food cards. Students currently under the School Feeding Program will be absorbed under the food card program.
  • All permanent residence and citizenship interviews will be suspended until further notice. All applicants will be contacted with new dates of appointments. Persons who were unable to leave Trinidad and Tobago by 22nd March, those whose landing certificates may have expired or those whose certificates will expire by 30th April, will be granted an extension of stay until June 22nd 2020.

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