BVI News

Gov’t asked to pay what they owe to small businesses affected by COVID-19

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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7 Comments

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  1. Diaspora says:

    This pandemic is serious, disruptive and many people and businesses are hurting. Typically, government should have a firm policy in place that certified invoices should be paid within 30 days. Government should stop leaning on the private sector to fund its operation. A long delay in paying vendors does just that. Further, a long delay in paying vendors drives up the cost of goods and services, impacts businesses operations, especially small businesses, impacts families quality of life…….etc.

    On another note, unemployment insurance should fall under the purview of the Dept.of Labour and Workforce Development, not Social Security. As a temporary measure and until unemployment measures are codified, government needs to come up with a stimulus package. Social Security generally covers a)old age pension/grant, b)disability pension/grant, c)survivor pension/grant and d)funeral grant. Further, second the economic diversification initiative.

    Like 14
  2. small man says:

    We go dead !!!!!!!!!!1

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  3. Expat says:

    Small problem with unemployment insurance, which may be why it hasn’t been implemented to date. The majority of the workforce in this country is reported to be immigrant. Without employment, most of them lose their privilege to stay. Why would they pay into a system from which they couldn’t claim benefits? Would this system be open to everyone? In the event that it is only for people with status to stay, is it fair that only they should be forced into paying for this system? There are a lot of questions and it’s not as simple as it appears.

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  4. Wishful Thinking says:

    We got nothing after Irmaria and our doors were closed for over a year. Why would they do anything now? Problem is we are all still struggling to get back from the hurricanes and now this…Let’s be hopeful that this government will do better for us than the last one.

  5. Leadership Matters! says:

    It is Unthinkable that governments throughout the caribbean, including our beloved BVI, with full knowledge of our exposure to devastating and catastrophic events, acts of God, (so to speak), to our region, (hurricanes, earthquakes and pandemics, due to tourism with folks traveling from all around the globe, that there isn’t any meaningful plan in place to sustain residents and business until the worst would have subsided.
    We don’t Print money (Yet) in BVI lol. Our government’s job is to put plans in place to attract investments and money into the country, create an Investment/Tax Friendly atmosphere for investors; foreign and local alike; and to manage Tax Payers money’s with utmost care and foresight. However, we know from first hand experience, that doesn’t happen. And so, Crunch time comes around, like Irma and now Corona Virus and the last thing government is inclined to talk about is Money. That’s a fact!
    What is so difficult for politicians elected by their constituents to manage, to be proactive, to think about and come up with doable, manageable solutions to the challenges they face or might have to face at some point. For the most part, the Civil Servants are the ones doing the work, actually running the country; while politicians main job is to implement policies and laws for the smooth and effective running of the country. Next door in the US Virgins, I recall in 1998 during a difficult and most challenging threat to their economy, suggestions were often called in to the radio stations wherein the salaries were suggested reduced while their crafting of policies and laws were suggested dealt with at say 4 parliamentary sessions per month.

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  6. voiceofreason says:

    Yes the Government needs to pay all their outstanding invoices and pay them quickly because a lot of businesses are hurting and the last thing they want is to have to wait another 3-6 months to get paid. Especially the businesses who continue to keep staff despite zero revenues. This is where the collection of monies owed become more crucial.

    I am all for an amendment of the SSB provisions to include some form of Unemployment benefit not sure about this insurance as insurance companies can be a bit tricky to deal with. If you are going to do insurance make sure it covers every eventuality possible but of course that would cost more. I prefer the first option.

    Tax concessions on the staple foods like sugar, rice, flour , milk etc. Grants to unemployed persons and for small businesses who kept persons employed. Small business loans. 3 months break on utility bills. These are other things that can be done.

    Like 1
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  7. NHI says:

    Will NHI be paying up too?

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