NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The private sector will now need to be ‘more nimble’ to adapt to the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19), according to Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation (BCCEC) chief executive Jeffrey Beckles.
Beckles hailed Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis’s plan to consult with major private sector entities on a national response as a ‘step in the right direction’.
Minnis warned last night that Coronavirus will have a ‘tremendous and widespread’ economic impact as he noted that tourism accounts for half of this nation’s gross domestic product.
During his national address on COVID-19, the prime minister said businesses should continue to institute measures to protect the health of their workers and consumers.
He noted that with this nation still recovering from the impact of Hurricane Dorian, COVID-19 represents “yet another risk to our economy and the country’s finances and fiscal sustainability plans”.
“This crisis will have a growing adverse impact on confidence, travel, and supply chains across the globe,” Minnis said.
“This will have an impact on the poorer and more vulnerable in our country.”
Beckles told Eyewitness News the BCCEC has long advocated for local businesses place greater focus on continuity plans.
“Now that we are facing this threat it means we are going to have to refine some things,” Beckles said.
“It’s even more important for businesses to understand what they need to do to operate under these conditions. Businesses will need to become more nimble in terms of being able to respond, embracing technology, allowing persons to work remotely.”
He continued: “As to the Prime Minister’s commitment to meeting with the private sector I think it’s a step in the right direction. This is going to require a collective approach. I am happy the private sector is going to be engaged. I think it’s the right thing to do. We have great minds in the public and private sector who can help us strategize on ways to mitigate the fall-out as much as we can.”
Beckles further noted that every Bahamian has an obligation to ensure that they comply with the preventative protocols put in place.
“Bahamians must accept individual and collective responsibility for the practice of proper hygiene and following the protocols the health professionals have put out,” he said.
“As to the economic impact, yes it’s going to hurt. It’s impacting the globe and will impact us domestically. The public and private sector will have to work hand in hand.
Beckles said: “We are concerned about the impact of the cruise lines not coming here for 30 days. We are concerned about the taxi drivers, tour operators, restaurants and their employees. We are all going to be impacted. This is a fight as the Prime Minister said we must all fight together.”