By Caribbean News Global
NEW YORK, USA – COVID-19 unique global health, social and economic crisis, has triggered a catastrophic impact worldwide, in particular China, Asia, Europe, UK, a quarantined Caribbean, and the Tri-State area (US) now in lockdown, previously thought impractical.
Debt suspension not enough
On March 25, the World Bank Group (WBG) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) called on “all official bilateral creditors” to suspend debt payments by International Development Association (IDA) countries because the “coronavirus outbreak is likely to have severe economic and social consequences for them”.
Antigua and Barbuda’s ambassador to the United States, Sir Ronald Sanders in response called for the World Bank and IMF urgent attention to all vulnerable economies underlining that – debt suspension to IDA countries, not enough.
“The WBG and IMF should not stop there,” Sir Sanders said in a statement. “But, the WBG and the IMF must include other vulnerable economies that are already reeling. These are extraordinary times and extraordinary responses are required. All governments must raise their voices, and G20 countries must respond.”
A quarantined Caribbean
World Health Organization (WHO) protocols and recommendations on health and safety measures to contain COVID-19 require maximum priority. The inclusion of Taiwan in major world institution(s) (WHO) is pragmatic. The solidarity and expertise of Cuba’s exponential expression to medical service worldwide is phenomenon.
In the region, prime minister Andrew Holness has announced that mere weeks after Jamaica’s first imported coronavirus (COVID-19) case, has made a tremendous impact on the country.
“The disease has the medical and public health aspects to it, but once you get into the consideration of an epidemic, then you have the economic and social impact and, so far, because it is a novel virus, meaning it’s new to us and we do not know enough about it, it is having a tremendous impact on our ability to respond,” the prime minister acknowledged. So, it will have an impact on our economy, and it will have an impact on our education system. It has already had an impact on our transportation and trade … it is having a rippling effect throughout our society, and so far, as it has been turning out, COVID-19 has had a tremendous impact,” he said.
Concerning those infected and to prevent further spread, the prime minister reiterated: “The measures that we have put in place have been effective, so far, in keeping down the number of new cases, but as we reach the inflection point, meaning from what is called clustering, we [will be] able to identify the cases in a geographic area. We also have a social impact, the possible increase in unemployment as a result of the virus.”
COVID-19 Caribbean stimulus
A $25 billion package, the largest fiscal stimulus in the country’s history, was announced, while further assistance – “stimulus and care package’ to assist those who have been laid off or who have lost their jobs as a result of the economic fallout,” the prime minister remarked.
The government of Saint Lucia is struggling to adapt to health measures and design a stimulus package, albeit the 2020/21 budget correction; meantime, the embassy of the Republic of China (Taiwan) donated Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) suits and medical face masks.
Saint Vincent and the Grenadine is contemplating a supplementary budget following, “an ambitious attempt to accelerate the economic transformation, at $1.2 billion, the largest budget ever tabled in parliament,” as presented by minister of finance Camillo Gonsalves.
Barbados has announced a BDS$20-million survival stimulus package and Grenada has outlined a home-grown structural adjustment programme.
COVID-19 has triggered a health and financial crisis. Unemployment claims, health care, and financial uncertainties have risen dramatically. This has hindered economic transformation, budget presentations, delays in futures forecast, triggered supplementary estimates, including the dynamics capable to compound nonperforming loans, warrant the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) and the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU) bankers association COVID-19 financial support.
A significant outbreak of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, in the Cayman Islands could have a “devastating effect” on the economy as well as people’s health, premier Alden McLaughlin said at the Fidelity Cayman Economic Outlook 2020 conference. It would “precipitate a drop in predicted economic growth” resulting from a drop-off in discretionary consumption and reductions in travel and tourism. “I don’t want to sound like a prophet of doom but we have to face reality.”
The Bahamas deputy prime minister Peter Turnquest said projections reveal that the losses from the COVID-19 crisis could total $1 billion over four months. And the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) report indicate that a long-lived high-impact crisis on tourism-driven output could result in a 75 percent reduction in visitors over the last three quarters of 2020 and could reduce GDP relative to the pre-crisis baseline expectations by between 11 percent to 26 percent in the case of The Bahamas, and by other appreciable magnitudes for Barbados and Jamaica.
David Jessop weekly commentary – The View from Europe: A post virus economic recovery strategy requires thought now – is instructive to the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) paper containing rough projections of the impact of COVID-19 on The Bahamas, Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, Suriname, and Trinidad.
Two economists, Henry Mooney and Maria Zegarra, went on to warn that in The Bahamas, Barbados, and Jamaica, where tourism receipts account for between 34 and 48 percent of total output (GDP) and similarly large shares of overall employment, the effect may be severe, particularly if the crisis globally remains acute past September.
The Predictive Index (PI) launched a comprehensive guide—Surviving an Economic Downturn with Talent Optimization, to help businesses lead through the current downturn summarise that “living in challenging and difficult times, businesses and governments have to act responsibly, making drastic changes to position organizations for stability. This requires confidence and resources needed to tackle those challenges head-on, reduction in spending and demand, uncertainty and fear, remote work, and supply and infrastructure disruption. To adapt and lead through turbulent times, leadership skills during times of economic uncertainty need to inspire people, harness talent … to enhance business agility and resilience.”
COVID-19 pandemic (health, social and economic crisis) is unlike any the world has faced. The global shut-down of society is a fundamental shift in logistics, coordination, innovation, science and technology, research and development. Lessons learned through COVID-19 early-on is vital to the practice of good hygiene, research and development, crisis management and the reinforcement that national intelligence is input to astute policy-making, strategy, (economic, social, physical) and development planning; particularly in small island developing countries.