By YOURI KEMP
Tribune Business Reporter
Grand Bahama’s Chamber of Commerce president has urged the government to allow “support” businesses for “essential services” to re-open during the COVID-19 lockdown to reduce imports.
Gregory Laroda told Tribune Business that “there are some concerns” still given that companies allowed to continue operating often relied on other local businesses that may not be exempt and are closed as a result of the lockdown.
Describing office supplies as one such support service that has been required to close, Mr Laroda added: “I have noticed Bethel Superstore just opened on Thursday, so they must have gotten some exemption, but for us to continue to operate we need supplies.
“With them closed, what that is doing is forcing some of the businesses to get these things form overseas and I don’t think that’s the direction we need to be going in.”
Mr Laroda urged the government to allow office supplies stores to re-open, adding: “Just like did with the hardware stores, where we allowed them to be open to sell business-to-business, I think that needs to be done with some of these other support businesses that the essential businesses rely on to provide them with supplies for their day-to-day running. So that is one of the things we will be talking to government about in trying to get going.”
Mr Laroda said much of the private sector remained in “wait and see mode”, adding: “This isn’t like Hurricane Dorian. Well, we knew in the middle of Dorian that in another day or two this will pass and we will pick up the pieces. We have no idea when this is going to end; we are only being hopeful.
“For a lot of businesses that were already struggling after Dorian and trying to pick up the pieces, this just adds to that. A lot of folks are just waiting and hoping, and while they understand the necessity for it they are obviously hoping we get this behind us and start looking at how we can slowly and safely open the economy again. We know, too, that it will not happen overnight. Some businesses will be able to recover sooner than others.”