Small businesses face “tsunami” COVID-19 blow

Small businesses face “tsunami” COVID-19 blow
Mark Turnquest

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The COVID-19 pandemic will likely have a tsunami-like impact on the Bahamian small business sector, a local consultant said yesterday.

Mark Turnquest, principal of Mark A Turnquest Consulting told Eyewitness News, that small businesses were facing at least “three months of hurt”.

“This is going to be like a tsunami,” Turnquest said.

“This is like a hurricane times ten. Most of these small businesses don’t have any sort of disaster management programme and no one expected this situation. You also have to consider that tourism is a major component of the country’s economic mode and that is being negatively impacted right now.”

Turnquest said: “At least half of my clients have placed their staff on reduced hours. I just told them to stay vigilant, take the necessary precautions and talk to the staff.

“This is a big disruption. This is a worldwide issue.I have told my clients that this is a minimum of three months of hurt.”

On Wednesday, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance K Peter Turnquest announced that among the COVID-19 relief measures being introduced is $20 million in short term loan support to Bahamian small businesses impacted by the current COVID-19 pandemic.

“This allocation is to be funded in part by utilization of an additional $10 million of the extinguished dormant accounts fund held by the Central Bank,” Turnquest said.

“Eligibility would include confirming that the business has been in existence for over 1 year, a commitment to retain most of the existing staff complement, and a plan to utilize the proceeds of the loan to ensure business continuity.

“People are waiting on the details of the government’s assistance. They understand the government’s constraints,” said Turnquest.