By LESLEY SAU
Nuku’alofa – May 27, 2020: 5pm (Nuku’alofa Times): The Talamahu Market in Nuku’alofa is also feeling the economic downturn as the result of the global Coronavirus or COVID-19 crisis is felt also in Tonga.
Market Master Motuliki Fakatava said people and businesses are all affected, especially with the lockdown and restrictions that were put in place.
He stated that Talamahu Market, one of the Public Enterprises of the Government, is facing possibly the toughest time in its history.
“What we have gone through now is not like what it used to be like before,” he said.
“The economiy is very low and we are all affected by it, including myself, employees, business, the marketing people because most of us, that is the only source of income where we get our money from.”
He said the past weeks since the lockdown began was challenging for people.
“It was a big issue for us because it was the first time this has happened,” Mr Fakatava said.
“The income we got from last month we saw there is a big difference from the months before since the lockdown began here in the Market.”
He said people were renting space at the Talamahu Market for selling handicrafts pay $2.50 per stall a day.
“We wish to reduce the cost but we cannot do anything about it It is not in our power to do such thing, it is beyond the cabinet to do that,” he said.
“We only have one revenue which is just the stall, where it is $2.50 per foot per day.
“We have not upgraded since the economic crisis started and I believe this problem will last for a month or more.
“At the moment, there has not been any change in the stall payment or cost.”
Meanwhile, handicraft seller ‘Uluakimisa Ma’u from Ma’ufanga said she has had problems with buyers.
“Since the borders are closed there has not been any tourist or people from overseas coming in to the country, so it is hard to get money now because they were the main sources of income,” she said.
“For the past days I only sold one necklace per day or one of the handicrafts which is hard at the moment.
“But I am happy that at least I get to provide bread for the family.”
She wishes that the close down of the borders would be lifted soon.
Tonga is among countries in the Pacific that locked down its borders and placed restrictions to prevent COVID-19 .
The country has not recorded any case so far.
Government has lifted some of the restrictions placed, including the opening of bars and kava clubs.
Business-houses have also voiced their concerns over the continuing lockdown.
The Tonga Chamber of Commerce said that government should open the restrictions so that life could return to normal.