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Graham Clarke (left), Executive Director of the Barbados Coalition of Service Industries (BCSI) with BCSI Trade and Research Officer, Elihu Wahid, during the press conference.

MSME sector hard hit by COVID-19

The micro, small and medium enterprise (MSME) sector has been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, as businesses have reported a fall-off in revenue due to measures taken to curb the spread of the virus and employers opted to go the route of layoffs rather than implementing pay cuts for their employees, during the lockdown period.

The Barbados Coalition of Service Industries (BCSI) recently conducted an Impact Study of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Barbadian Services Sector and yesterday, the findings from the survey were revealed during a virtual press conference held over the online Zoom platform, by BCSI Trade and Research Officer, Elihu Wahid.

Graham Clarke, Executive Director of the BCSI meanwhile noted that the MSME sector is under threat if no action is taken to aid micro, small and medium enterprises and therefore, he supports steps being taken by the Barbados Government, to open back up the economy.
“We conducted this COVID-19 impact study, a survey designed to measure the impact of COVID-19 on the services sector and utilising that data, to inform BCSI’s programming during and post COVID-19,” he remarked.

“Our research officer will provide many more details on the findings shortly, but for us at the BCSI, the one thing that is clear from the results of this study, is that the micro, small and medium sized enterprises in this sector within Barbados, are really under threat. 83% of all the respondents reported a decrease in revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with the average fall in revenue for this group significantly high, at about 62% and the outlook for the future, at least in the short term, is quite pessimistic from those who were surveyed, with only 15% of those surveyed expressing the view that things will change of the better, in the short term,” Clarke revealed.

“So there is much work to be done. And we can understand the ripple effects of these statistics on the economy and on people within the economy, because that can be devastating and that is why we fully support the reopening strategy announced by the Prime Minister (Mia Amor Mottley) and the Government of Barbados and we join with the social partnership in urging our members and everyone to maintain the health protocols that are in place, as we gradually reposition ourselves and our economy for the future,” he further stated.

Research Officer, Elihu Wahid in giving greater details regarding the survey, noted that  a sample size of 100 participants was identified, but they were only able to get 83 respondents to complete the survey, which was conducted from May 22nd to June 9th this year.
However, 83 per cent of all respondents reported a decrease in revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the average fall off in revenue for this study group was 62 per cent. A quarter of respondents indicated that they needed to come to an agreement with their creditors. 65 per cent of respondents meanwhile identified themselves as persons who employ others and 76 per cent of those employers implemented some form of workforce interventions, showing a preference for layoffs as opposed to pay cuts, during the pandemic. 66 per cent of entities which implemented these measures, reported that they applied them to in excess of 50 per cent of their entire staff complement. The majority however did not indicate any desire to implement such interventions in the future. (RSM)

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