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Editorial: What Is The Course For The Ship Of State?

THERE’S some political sparring afoot. As readers of today’s Tribune can see, the deputy leaders of the FNM and PLP are taking potshots at one another.

Chester Cooper, for the Opposition, wants a briefing about the state of the economy, while Peter Turnquest, for the government, notes that such briefings happen on a regular basis.

Underneath the sniping, however, there is a serious point – which is that many of us have concerns about what the state of the economy is at present, and could do with some guidance on where we are, and where we’re going.

We do feel for the government in this moment – with the battle against COVID-19 making definite predictions on when the economy might get back on its feet a fool’s errand.

In yesterday’s Tribune, we reported that Mr Turnquest was looking several weeks ahead towards international borders reopening – but we all know that further spikes in COVID-19 cases could see that pushed even further back.

That said, the signs are all around of the economic nightmare we are facing. In today’s Tribune Business section, Moody’s reports that tourism income was pretty much wiped out in the second quarter, and that unemployment is soaring, while we also report the number of households bringing home a salary below minimum wage tripling. There are now more wire transfers going out of the country than coming in. Pick a sector of the economy, and it’s not hard to see the troubles it is facing.

As for how quickly circumstances are changing, you only need to see the turnaround in a week from the government imposing an immediate lockdown to declaring it will open New Providence more.

More details from the government of how it plans to support the economy we have in the meantime, plus its plans for when the country restarts would be useful. Not just for Mr Cooper and the PLP, but for the public.

We understand the stormy waters we are sailing through, but we still need to know the course we are charting.

Lessons hopefully learned

With a metaphorical shake of hands, it appears that the protests that sprouted up the day after that immediate lockdown have been resolved. The police won’t prosecute, the protesters represented by Wayne Munroe won’t sue.

Given the circumstances at present, a protracted legal battle wouldn’t help anyone, and there’s a certain honour in all parties just walking away.

That said, shouldn’t that be up to the Director of Public Prosecutions? Might the Attorney General have something to say about it?

Legal matters have a habit of not going away quite as readily as one might hope, so senior officials weighing in might be useful to tie it off completely. Meanwhile, others arrested for minor offences in lockdown might be asking well, what about me?

We’re glad this has been resolved – and we hope lessons have been learned on all sides to stop such tensions being stirred again.

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