Sumner: Fear among members of business community

There is a very real fear among members of the business community about their survival as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, an industry stakeholder revealed.

Principal of Sumner Strategic Partners and Vice Chair of the Bahamas Entrepreneurial Venture Fund Edison Sumner said the fear now being expressed by many in the business community – both in small and medium-sized enterprises as well as the larger companies – is the uncertainty of what is going to happen over the short term.

“There’s a very real fear from the business community about their survival in this economy. Not only during this time, but what’s going to happen after we’re out. That fear is real, but the fear doesn’t mean we have to go into panic mode,” he told Guardian Business.

“I do think that if we take this time to plan properly what the future of this country is going to be, how we’re going to restructure a lot of the industries, how we are going to introduce new industries because of this, then we have a great opportunity now to begin to crop that policy out.”

With most businesses shuttered because of the government-mandated lockdown measures to slow the spread of the virus, many companies have had to reduce or lay off staff and seek financial support from the government and lending institutions to stay afloat.

“How long is this pandemic going to last, how long is it going to have an effect on the economy of The Bahamas, to the degree that we literally have to shut down the economy for a period of time? And the fear of just not knowing how long this is going to last, because the timing of this is you could equate that to the value or the loss of value you’re going to see in the economy,” Sumner said.

“It’s really about how we plan going forward. How do we bridge ourselves during this period of stalled economic activity and how do we continue to support our employees, how do we continue to support the economy? Because nothing is happening at the moment.”

Sumner said now is the time for innovation and diversification within the business community.

“We’re beginning to work on some things now, on how we’re going to craft this policy going forward and limiting the reliance so much on tourism and financial services, but also expanding our minds to consider what other industries we can get involved in that can also bring in significant revenue to the country,” he said.

“So that when we go through these kinds of situations again, we mitigate against these kinds of losses in the economy and will be able to at least secure some jobs in the process and build out a more pleasant and brighter future for the country.”

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