Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest said yesterday the government is modeling for a worst case scenario in the event there is a case of coronavirus (COVID-19) here in The Bahamas.
The government has allocated $4 million from the contingency fund to deal with the virus.
Turnquest has said previously that more funding may be needed in the event there is a local outbreak, but when asked for further details yesterday, he stressed that he didn’t want to “set an expectation for an unknown event and cause concern ahead of something actually happening”.
Still, the finance minister said a plan is in place to manage whatever fiscal threats result from COVID-19.
“We’re looking at that, what that may mean to our revenue intake and what that may mean in terms of expenditure cuts that we may have to engage, in order to ensure that we do not worsen our situation, without harming the economy further,” he told Guardian Business yesterday.
“Well, we’ve already allocated $4 million to the Ministry of Health, to help them with the preparation and to do whatever they can to contain it, so that we do not have any large-scale outbreak.”
The other facet of combating the virus’ impact on the economy is proper communication regarding the country’s tourism product, that Turnquest likened to the campaigns immediately after Hurricane Dorian.
“Tourism will be using its resources to make sure that if there is an event, that we are effectively managing the crisis with communication around that to ensure that if there is an event in one island and it does not keep spreading to the other islands, it is not thereby affecting other islands,” he said.
“Just like the hurricane, hopefully we can divert the traffic intended to go to one island to another island that may not have the virus and thereby maintain those tourism arrivals.
“This is still very much a fluid situation, but we’re taking into account all these items as best we can, considering that everything is pretty much up in the air.”
Last week during his mid-year budget communication, Turnquest said the coronavirus could place a potential drag on spending and revenue if the travel sector is impacted considerably.
Governments around the world are cautioning their citizens to avoid unnecessary travel.