Government is being asked to pay what they owe to local small businesses that have been seriously affected by the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
This is one of the recommendations the BVI Chamber for Commerce & Hotel Association (BVICCHA) outlined in a situation report on how the pandemic is affecting the local business community.
“The current situation was deemed to be dire because of decreased business activity across all sectors due to travel, social gatherings, remote working and other restrictions. This has led to decreased operating revenue and businesses have to contemplate layoffs or reducing working hours for staff,” the Chamber of Commerce said.
The BVICCHA, in the meantime, had also proposed that government implement “unemployment benefits through the Social Security system”, as well as a ‘disaster fund’ that offers loans to small businesses that experience ‘economic injury’ after disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes, and pandemics.
The Chamber further said that it would be looking into how Business Interruption Insurance can be more cost-effective for the wider business community.
Long-term economic diversification strategy needed
In a letter to Premier Andrew Fahie late last month, Interim Chairwoman for the BVICCHA Shaina Smith said a long-term economic diversification strategy needs to be developed as “to make the economy more disaster-resilient”.
“It is no longer acceptable for the vulnerabilities in our economy to be tolerated and other industries need to be developed to reduce the vulnerability and for economic growth,” Smith said.
And while extending its own support to companies experiencing hardships, the BVICCHA said, “urgent action to be taken to support and stabilize businesses”.
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