Speaking to the role the private sector plays in resiliency and rebuilding following major economic shocks like disasters and the COVID-19 pandemic, Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation (BCCEC) Chairperson Khrystle Rutherford-Ferguson said The Bahamas must use the experiences from past events to help mitigate and reduce risk while building back its economy.
Rutherford-Ferguson was the only regional representative addressing a virtual event entitled “Disaster-Risk Informed and Resilient COVID-19 Recovery”, held by the United Nations (UN) Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) during the 75th session of the UN General Assembly.
According to the BCCEC chair, for the private sector, using past experiences means amending business continuity plans and having business distribution insurance to safeguard against extreme shocks.
“We must also ensure that educational programs are implemented into schools, the private sector and communities on the inherent risks, preparing for disasters and improving the methodology for recovery. Continued collaboration with the private sector and other key stakeholders is crucial,” she said.
“It is imperative to make the best of public-private partnerships to ease the impacts of insufficient public resources and to aide in post-event recovery. Continued collaboration with the private sector in developing strategies that mitigate risks and aid in recovery is imperative. This protects jobs, livelihoods and economic gains.”
Rutherford-Ferguson pointed to key lessons learned during the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic, on the type of support the private sector can lend to the government and the support that is necessary from a governmental level to stabilize the private sector in such circumstances.
“We also learned that financing is a key component and accessibility to financing is essential in the recovery of micro and small businesses. We also found that there was a key role that we played with regard to lobbying for support from the government and changing various policies and implementing certain concessions for the business community,” she said.
“I take pride in all those things against the backdrop of Hurricane Dorian and COVID-19 presents yet another challenge for not just The Bahamas but globally, so against that backdrop we are seeing that the ability of micro and small businesses to be able to work remotely and have access to key technology is pivotal to ensure that the businesses maintain their operations.”