SBAJ president optimistic of COVID-19 recovery

SBAJ president optimistic of COVID-19 recovery

Wednesday, April 08, 2020

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Small Business Association of Jamaica (SBAJ) President Hugh Johnson expressed his confidence in the country's ability to recover from the effects of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We have a cadre of leaders instituting interventions, who I believe mean this country well. We should support them in whatever they are doing to safeguard Jamaica against the adverse effects of COVID-19,” he stated.

Meanwhile, Johnson says the challenges associated with the outbreak present “glorious opportunities” to further bolster and safeguard the local economy against potential external shocks relating to the virus and future related events.

He added that this is critical in light of the global outbreak, which has impacted countries that Jamaica largely depended on, among these, the US, Canada, the United Kingdom, and sections of mainland Europe.

“Already, we are seeing the immediate fallout in the local tourism sector and the impending fallout in remittances, two of the largest [foreign exchange] contributors to the economy. In light of this, we need to focus more on building our local economy because, currently, we are too vulnerable to external shocks,” Johnson contends.

While acknowledging that “you can't totally prevent imports” he nonetheless maintains that, “you can't be importing [up to] 85 per cent of all that you consume either”.

“I see where we can become a better and more productive nation [in the aftermath of the virus] because we would be getting the opportunity to make a fresh start, in a manner of speaking,” Johnson argued.

Donovan Wignall, president of the MSME Alliance, has also expressed confidence that the economy will be able to bounce back from the impact of COVID-19.

“There are some very valuable lessons being learned at this time about what is really essential and what isn't. Coming out of the crisis, a lot that has been adopted will remain. At our level, as businesses, we need to make sure that we have plans in place to recover. In fact, the country as a whole needs to take stock of what is happening and see how best we can prepare ourselves for anything like this that will occur in the future. Murphy's Law will say that it probably will, but we will be better prepared to handle it. If that approach is taken, we will have better businesses coming out of this crisis,” he stated.

He further added that local manufacturers are now presented with opportunities to fill the gap and meet demands that have been caused by COVID-19.

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