The Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employer’s Confederation (BCCEC) yesterday said government’s fiscal measures to offset the economic impact of COVID-19 comes at a time when employers must balance the choice between losses to its businesses and losses to its employees.
BCCEC Chairperson Khrystle Rutherford-Ferguson said during this initial stage, the chamber must assess its membership to determine those who will benefit from these measures and those that may have been inadvertently left out due to the size or type of enterprise that they operate.
“The fiscal measures announced will assist in bridging the gap between maintaining minimum levels of cash flow and maintaining payrolls for as long as possible notwithstanding the loss in revenues,” she said in a statement.
“The business community recognizes that critical to weathering these challenging times is the ability to manage its costs and provide support to its employees.”
The government has committed $20 million for short-term loans for small businesses impacted by the highly contagious virus with an annual turnover of up $3 million.
The government also announced that it would provide $10 million for self-employed workers in the tourism sector who may lose business as a result of diminished tourist arrivals due to the novel coronavirus.
Rutherford-Ferguson said the BCCEC acknowledges the measures taken by the government to provide support to the workforce and small businesses, as it diligently seeks to contain the spread of COVID-19.
“We also acknowledge that at this stage, benefits are focused on ensuring that self-employed persons and employees who must self-isolate or must be quarantined can do so without having to choose between their health and the health of others amidst the pressures associated with earning a wage,” she said.
“We appreciate that the deputy prime minister and minister of finance, in his presentation, stated that these measures are considered as phase one, recognizing that additional measures will likely have to be implemented.
“The BCCEC was invited to collaborate with government on developing strategies that will assist all businesses during these challenging times. We look forward to further collaborating with the government of The Bahamas to determine the most appropriate levers available to mitigate against the economic impact of COVID-19 given the fiscal constraints.”