The Dominica Business Forum (DBF INC.)is pleased with the level of cooperation demonstrated and actions taken by the private sector in dealing with the Corona Virus (COVID-19). Most private sector enterprises have voluntarily shut down operations and others, which provide essential services and products, have creatively adjusted their operations to continue to serve the public, in safe conditions, conducive to both customers and employees.
The Dominica Business Forum Inc. salutes the employees of the various private sector enterprises who continue to render their services to the public and are exposed, because of their interaction with the public and cannot implement the necessary social distancing. These include the cashiers and attendants at the supermarkets, the tellers at the financial institutions, the pharmacists, the vendors of fresh produce, among others. Without the services of the aforementioned, together with that of the utility companies, who continue to provide, so far, uninterrupted services of electricity, water and telecommunications, coping with the impact of the COVID-19 would have been much more difficult.
The heroic task of the Healthcare Providers, the police and fire and ambulance services cannot go unnoticed and the public is encouraged to support and cooperate with the authorities in all ways possible. The imposition of the State of Emergency and associated Curfew will assist in allowing the service providers to perform their tasks without added distractions from the public.
As we enter another month of uncertainty, the Corona Virus continues to ravage countries in Europe and the increase in cases in the United States poses a great threat to the Caribbean region, Dominica is of no exception. The latest report indicated that our neighbouring islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique have 114 and 128 confirmed cases respectively, which heightens the need to have our borders secured and to protect our shores from illegal entry.
The economic realities of the COVID-19 will begin to bite as consumers, deprived of salaries and wages, find it difficult to purchase much-needed products and business owners realize less income and are unable to meet their financial commitments. The majority of private sector enterprises in Dominica are micro, small and medium-size, with cashflow difficulties and operate from hand to mouth on a monthly basis.
As the long lines at the supermarkets during the month-end diminish, an indicator of the diminishing purchasing power of the consumers, the population is advised to prepare for the long haul. Even though the COVID-19 is brought under control in Dominica, the stringent conditions will continue because until the World Health Organization gives the all-clear of the pandemic, all countries will have to continue the required protocol of social distancing and borders will remain closed. Unfortunately, no matter how well organized the administrative and management mechanism is in a country, there is no control of the Corona Virus as demonstrated in the more developed countries such as the United States, Italy and South Korea, which have robust economies and superior health care systems.
The collective responsibility of the Commonwealth of Dominica is to follow the various established protocols to prevent the spread of the Corona Virus, which requires joint private sector and public sector collaboration, through social distancing, the continued closure of ports of entry and adherence to stipulated health guidelines from the relevant authorities.
Consumers are therefore alerted that with the loss of income, the private sector will experience difficulties with their payroll responsibilities, and they should be prepared to cope with the realities in the coming weeks and months, depending on how long the situation persists.
Consumers are advised to adopt austerity measures with their purchases, be selective with the products that are purchased, avoid wastage and try to substitute with local products as much as possible. There may not be a shortage of goods on the supermarket shelves but there may not be the financial resources to purchase it.
While we prepare for the health impact of COVID-19, it is equally important that the population prepares for the economic impact and the “bread and butter” issues related to COVID-19.
The Dominica Business Forum (DBF) continues to encourage the public to practice social distancing and to cooperate with the relevant authorities. Remember, everyone is at risk of the Corona Virus. Please STAY AT HOME and obey security measures.
Stay Safe Dominica and let not another case enter our shores. God bless our people and the Nature Isle.