However, Watson warned that if the state of emergency fails to make any serious dent in the country’s crime problem such as the large scale seizure of weapons or the arrest of major criminal players, this would be “a terrible setback” for both the country and its economy. “This is an extreme measure. We want to see extreme results,” Watson told Newsday.
He said there is no doubt that there will be some loss in productivity as a result of the curfew which is imposed in certain parts of the country as a result of the state of emergency. He explained that the businesses which would affected the most would be those which rely heavily on clients who patronise them during the curfew hours of 9 pm to 5 am.
Watson added that even the massive traffic jam which took place on Monday when people tried to get out of Port-of-Spain to escape the curfew hours would serve a disincentive to productivity.
He explained that while people would be prepared to make a sacrifice if by the end of the state of emergency people see “a beginning to the end” of criminals dominating the country’s landscape, there would be a serious erosion in the public’s confidence in the ability of institutions to deal with crime.
On Tuesday during a tour of the San Fernando General Hospital, Prime Minister Kamla Persad- Bissessar, speaking to reporters claimed that since the imposition of the state of emergency on Sunday, crimes have fallen “almost to zero”.
On Tuesday, Trade and Industry Minister Stephen Cadiz said that the country’s economy may actually benefit from the state of emergency although he acknowledged that the accompanying 9 pm to 5 am curfew in specific crime ‘hot spots’ has affected several business sectors but said most business people are willing to make a temporary sacrifice for a better and safer future.
“For companies that are running second (and) third shifts it creates a problem and of course it will affect food service industries, cinemas, a whole host of different sectors but I think people realise that it’s a small sacrifice.
“It has to be done and everybody that I’ve spoken to has said no problem, they will just make the necessary arrangements...It will be a minor hiccup in the whole scheme of things really and truly when you think of it. I’ve had people call me and say instead of running three shifts they’re going to run two 12-hour shifts,” Cadiz said.
He added that while profit margins are likely to be reduced during the curfew period for several sectors of the economy, successfully tackling crime would lead to increased revenue in the long term.
“It is hard to deal with something like this, especially where we are coming out of the (economic) slump that we’re in but it’s a small setback. Businesses are not shutting down, this is a very, very small setback in the scheme of things...Yes, it is going to cost (them) but when you think of what crime costs businesses in Trinidad and Tobago now, I think this is a very, very small price to pay for the long term sustainable development of this country,” Cadiz added.