NASSAU, BAHAMAS — A prominent retailer yesterday estimated that the two-week lockdown will result in an 85 percent sales decline, while noting that “15 percent is better than zero”.
The country began a two-week lockdown last night due to a spike in coronavirus cases.
As of yesterday, the number of confirmed cases in the country was 715.
Jason Watson, AID’s president said: “It is another major setback but we knew more restrictions were coming because of the alarming surge in active cases.
“I expect an 85 percent drop in sales while this version of the lockdown is in place but 15 percent is much better than zero. All staff will be retained and those staff members who can work from home will do so.”
Watson said: “Since construction is allowed AID will continue with projects in Nassau and Marsh Harbor. Auto parts and auto repair should be deemed essential since transportation and road safety is crucial to all industries, government agencies and occupations.
“For whatever reason The Bahamas is one of very few countries world wide that does not deem the automotive industry as essential.”
Watson said there also should be transparency with regard to businesses that are not deemed essential but never closed, even during the initial lockdown.
“If they are legitimately given permission there should be a published list,” he said.
“It is demoralizing to see your competitors open while you are closed. Because of the lack of transparency it creates a breeding ground for corruption. There will be a lot of speculation and a mad scramble for businesses to get permission to operate. Hopefully, new cases will trend downward and restrictions will be relaxed after two weeks.”
Another retailer told Eyewitness News that yesterday was a ‘nightmare’ as they scrambled to prepare their business and employees for the lockdown.
“I am just trying to get our company squared away and all of our employees taken care of before the lockdown,” said Kendrick Christie, a chartered accountant and certified fraud examiner.
Christie underscored the country must come up with a lockdown exit strategy.
“Clearly as I study the lockdown strategies report on African nations, lockdowns have worked I dare say but at a blow to their economies at about 2.5 percent of GDP for every month a lockdown is in effect,” he said.
“It impacts the middle class and poor very hard. We need a lockdown exit strategy consisting of ramped-up contact tracing and testing, moving away from locking down an entire country and targeting high COVID-19 areas instead.Vietnam has 278 cases and is a model we can look to as well as some African nations..
“If we don’t have a lockdown exit strategy, we can be subject to this for the rest of the year at a huge cost to the economy.”
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance K Peter Turnquest told reporters ahead of a Cabinet meeting yesterday that while government revenues have declined by as much as 50 percent due to the COVID-19 fall-out, it is still in line with government projections.
“We have always said we planned for an interim period of lower income to the government,” he said.
“Up to now we are pretty much where we projected which is about 50 per cent of our usual revenue for this period. Fortunately this is the slow period for tourism and we are not totally off our mark.”
Turnquest said: “The expenditure is elevated as a result of all the social programs we are trying to do. The good news is we budgeted for this.
“We are more or less where we projected we would be. In the Fall, if we continue to have lockdowns and our tourism business doesn’t come back we will have to start making some new decisions and adjustments but for the moment we are where we anticipated we would be at this stage.”