Minister of Public Works Desmond Bannister said the Straw Market Authority (SMA) has already lost over $165,000 in rental income for the year and expects to lose more, even when the markets reopen.
“The total loss rental income for the SMA during the COVID-19 global pandemic to May 31, 2020, is $165,550.00, or a 71.4 percent decrease,” Bannister said during his contribution to the 2020/2021 budget debate.
While he did not expand on the numbers at the time, Bannister later provided figures that indicated that in March, the SMA collected 80 percent of its expected collection.
At the Bay Street Straw Market, $51,240 of the projected $64,050 was collected. At the Cable Beach market, $7,560 of the $9,450 of projected income was collected.
The SMA collected $2,240 of a projected $2,800 from Paradise Island vendors, and $5,180 of $6,475 from Fort Fincastle vendors.
However, during April and May, while the country was under strict curfew and lockdown measures, nothing was collected.
Bannister said that while rent will not be waived for vendors once the markets reopen, it is likely that some vendors may not be able to pay rent.
“The updated budget is primarily based on the assumption that vendors will not pay rent to the SMA until January, 2021,” he said.
“Please note that the SMA does not intend to waive the payment of rent if, or when, its markets re-open.
“However, practically, we must attempt to address the real possibility that vendors may not be in a financial position to pay rent.”