Economic activity boost could be on horizon with vaccine rollout, BCCEC chair suggests

Economic activity boost could be on horizon with vaccine rollout, BCCEC chair suggests
Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers' Confederation (BCCEC) Chairperson Khrystle Rutherford-Ferguson.

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — An effective COVID-19 vaccine rollout strategy, coupled with keeping COVID cases low, could help boost economic activity, the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employer’s Confederation’s (BCCEC) chairperson said yesterday.

In an interview with Eyewitness News, Khrystle Rutherford-Ferguson suggested that private establishments could be used as vaccination sites once vaccines become readily available to the general public.

“There is an impetus for things to get back to normal as much as possible as soon as possible. That has been our position from day one,” she said.

She added: “With the recent delivery of the first batch, it is important to remember that countries have been waiting with bated breath for batches of the vaccine because it has been seen as the cost-effective way of reducing community spread and stabilizing the economy.

“Before the vaccine was developed, the most efficient way of reducing community spread was adhering to the protocols, which is one thing the Chamber of Commerce continues to advocate for.”

According to Rutherford-Ferguson, an effective and efficient rollout strategy, coupled with keeping the numbers low until there is more widespread inoculation, can boost economic activity and investor confidence and lead to a rebound in the tourism sector.

“For The Bahamas, whose primary business is the tourism sector, I can’t stress how important these numbers are for our country,” she said.

“The Chamber is prepared to work with the Ministry of Health and other key policymakers to provide any support necessary to ensure that employees have the much-needed access to the vaccine for those wishing to take it.

“I would also add, when looking at your population size and those eligible for the vaccine, we would also ask that there be consideration for public-private partnerships and that those partnerships can be developed to allow private establishments to be used for vaccination when vaccines would be made available to the general public.”

Rutherford-Ferguson noted that the pandemic has presented many challenges to the business community.

“There is no doubt that the challenges have been many. There have been challenges associated with various lockdowns and curfews, however, businesses are able to operate largely now with few restrictions,” said Rutherford-Ferguson.

“This is as a result of everyone realizing that you have an individual and collective responsibility to adhere to safety protocols to ensure that numbers remain low.”