Lockdowns are unsustainable — says economist

Lockdowns are unsustainable — says economist
Rupert Pinder (file photo)

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The country cannot sustain repeated lockdowns, a local economist and University of The Bahamas lecturer has warned, telling Eyewitness News that such action is inhibiting any chance at ‘meaningful economic recovery’.

Rupert Pinder called into question the overall strategy for handling the pandemic from not just a health but also an economic perspective.

“What is the strategy?” he said.

“A lot of Caribbean countries are trying to manage this thing but you can’t afford to keep the country under lockdowns. Unlike the United States we don’t have the ability to print money. We are already running a huge fiscal deficit. I think we have to find a way to have a managed opening of the economy. We just cannot sustain these lockdowns. All of these things are delaying any sort of meaningful economic recovery.”

His comments echo those of Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation (BCCEC) chief executive Jeffrey Beckles, who told Eyewitness News earlier this week that the business community cannot afford to be subjected to the undue pressure of repeated lockdowns.

Beckles said the sudden closures placed considerable strain on businesses.

Pinder also warned that many small businesses will not survive the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In my view a lot of small businesses will no longer exist after this pandemic,” Pinder said.

“There are some businesses that have been around for a long time and that is not to say they are not vulnerable but for them there may be a level of savings and access to credit that is not available for small businesses. I just don’t see the plan going forward.”

The country has been under a series of lockdowns and curfews since it began witnessing COVID-19 cases back in March.

The number of reported cases in the country have now surged past 500, with Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis last night acknowledging that health officials have recommended a continuation of the weekend lockdown once the all clear is given following the passage of Hurricane Isaias.