ECONOMIC VIEWPOINT: Time is money
JUNE 1 marks the start of the second half of the year.
For any business, this time is smack in the middle of the second
quarter of the year, which traditionally represents a chance to
review, refocus and plan for the second half of the year.
For many, the impacts of COVID-19 have upended all plans made at the
start of the year, when the conversation centered on the promise which
was available to businesses who focused on the Barbadian spirit, or
the possibilities which could redound from the year 2020.
That optimism has been replaced by the desire to survive economically.
This island’s main source markets have been significantly impacted by
the deadly pandemic. The virus is transmitted through infected persons
producing droplets, which carry the disease. That carries the
possibility of rapid spread of the disease, and significantly impacts
Countries have responded by trying to control the spread of the virus.
They have closed borders to passenger flights and lockdowns have been
put in place to protect citizens from the spread of the disease.
It has totally shelved global travel and Barbados, with its dependence
on tourism, has been forced to confront the harshest reality since
Independence – surviving in a world where the major revenue generator
is not accessible at present.
Until a vaccine is discovered and mass produced, tourism will not
return to pre-crisis levels, which leaves Barbados vulnerable to
economic pressures. The pressures on the industries which depend on
tourism, the sub-sector, means that the job losses will be magnified.
Gone are the island tours which were predominantly used by tourists
and even as restaurants reopen dine-in services, many of those
businesses will suffer from an apprehensive public, which will be
skittish about returning too quickly to life as they knew it
As restaurants reopen, bars remain closed as the entertainment
sub-sector is still deemed too dangerous to reopen, with curfew times,
especially between Fridays and Sundays, still from 8 p.m to 5 a.m.
Domestic taxation was already high before the real impact of the
disease was felt and after a poor first quarter fiscal performance,
the second quarter where real economic activity was virtually
non-existent will be woeful and the financial position of this country
will continue to worsen.
That means that the private sector will have to step into the breach.
Tourism-related development and investments in infrastructure will
have to be fast-tracked in an effort to bridge the fiscal gap.
Time is indeed money. Government must ensure that in the effort to
find growth, that workers are respected and protected.