Turnquest: Lending agencies ready to assist

The government has had discussions with all of its associated multilateral lending agencies to ensure that The Bahamas will have the option to acquire funds if the economic fallout from the coronavirus (COVID-19) threat becomes protracted, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest said Wednesday.

Turnquest, who was a guest on the Guardian Radio show Rush Hour, said government received positive feedback from those multilateral lending agencies.

“So, we have no concerns about our ability to finance whatever the needs may be as we work through this,” Turnquest said.

“We do anticipate that there is going to be a significant impact short to medium-term. We hope that this virus passes and we see our source markets start to recover; that towards the end of the year, fourth quarter going into 2021, that we would start to see the rebound.”

Turnquest said the country has to prepare for the worst, but hope for the best.

He added that it is believed that the COVID-19 pandemic will be a relatively short-term event.

Turnquest posited that even if New Providence remains in the grips of COVID-19 when source markets like the United States and Canada open back up, commerce can flow through Family Islands that remained unaffected by the virus.

“If they (source markets) are able to get their situation under control, the wide options that we have will stand in good stead, especially if we can keep the virus out of the Family Islands in particular,” said Turnquest.

He said the negative effects of COVID-19 on The Bahamas’ economy have once again exposed the need for the country to become much less dependent on tourism, and he called on the private sector to begin to develop ways to do it.

“Don’t wait on the government,” said Turnquest.

“Even if tourism comes back, it is high time that we try find something else now.”

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