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Editorial: A Long Road Back From The Brink

IF there was any doubt about the economic mountain we have to climb to recover from COVID-19, the International Monetary Fund ought to have put paid to it yesterday.

The fund again cut its predictions for the Bahamian economy, and called us “one of the hardest hit countries in the Caribbean”.

That last part is perhaps no surprise given how heavily we lean on tourism, an industry that ground to a halt this year the world over.

But the recovery is not expected any time soon – with the IMF predicting only a two percent growth next year, and saying it would take four years to get back to where we started before the pandemic.

That will mean some tough questions ahead – not least of all about how we pay for the debts we are incurring now as the deficit balloons.

We have already seen the problems of a lack of income for the government and essential services, while at the same time officials paying out more to keep people going through unemployment and to pay for food parcels.

Less money in and more money out means the debt goes up – and that will have to be paid for at some point.

With a four-year recovery time predicted, and an election due in 2022, a large share of that will fall on the next government, whichever party forms that. There will be questions about increased taxes, payment of existing taxes that have gone unpaid, paying back student loans, and even the prospect of new taxes – such as an income tax. That’s a discussion which will cause a significant backlash, particularly among residents of richer communities.

We can’t pretend the economy is healthy, though. We know unemployment has soared – although the government has not provided exact numbers after postponing its unemployment survey. There has been talk of 40 percent unemployment, but we would not be surprised if it were more – or at least had been at some stage of the pandemic.

The glimmer of light is that hotels are starting to reopen, and businesses are starting to take workers back on after their extended furlough. We shouldn’t focus on the glimmer and neglect the storm cloud, but any ray of sun is welcome after so long.

Every election is about the economy – but the 2022 vote will focus on that more so than ever. The winner will have a great burden to carry thanks to COVID-19 – so a clear plan will be more crucial than ever before.

Not just for the electorate, not just for the nation’s funds, but also so international organisations can see we are moving in the right direction. We really have no choice but to get it right – even if that means asking the toughest questions.

Vaccines for all

At last, vaccinations are about to begin – but not for The Bahamas. Not yet.

Indeed, while the United Kingdom is the first out of the gate with offering vaccinations, The Bahamas will have to wait until Spring.

It’s going to be very hard indeed watching as we see other countries around the world getting their jabs while we sit and wait.

It could be even worse too – if we start to see exorbitant prices being charged here for early access to the vaccine for the rich and well-connected.

We hope the roll-out is not uneven, and that a clear plan is in place for distributing the vaccine. We would suggest, in fact, that we’ve known all along who should get the vaccine first. It’s those on the list of essential workers – the healthcare workers, the supermarket staff, the gas station attendants… all the people who have kept us going while we’ve been waiting indoors. That’s who should get it first, not those of us who can wait a while longer indoors until more supplies are available, and not those who can jump the queue with a wave of the chequebook.

Comments

DDK 3 months ago

How in hell do we know whether we even want an untested, rushed vaccine for this virus? Come on People, vaccines normally take years, if not decades, to develope and be tested. Is this what the "virus" was all about? Profit for big pharma and, of course, the governments involved in the pushing and indoctrination of this untested and unproven vaccine? I would not touch it with a twenty foot pole!

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watcher 3 months ago

I would not say that the various vaccines coming to market are rushed and untested. Unlike other vaccines, the research into which would have been, for the most part, privately funded solely by the pharmaceutical companies, in this instance the full weight of global government subsidies has been used.

Also, many scientists will have been drafted into covid research who might otherwise have used their time and expertise on other medicines. And let us not forget additional funding has been made available from concerned citizens such as, for example, Dolly Parton's incredible donation of one million dollars. If a vaccine were not made available for another two years then I suspect that there would cries of 'why is it taking so long'?

We now accept that, for example, children's innoculations and adult flu jabs 'work', but there would have been a time when these were first rolled out. Let us accept, until firm evidence is provided to the contrary, that any covid vaccine will have been properly tested. To say otherwise would seem to suggest that the scientists have somehow deliberately set out to use their research to harm us; which any right-minded person should know is preposterous.

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tribanon 3 months ago

You're about as naive as they come if you don't believe a great portion of today's big pharma is evil to the core and motivated entirely by profits. You're free to get jabbed and vaccinated all you want. I just want to remain free to choose what's put in my body without coercion or repercussion of any kind. Those of you who don't feel the same way can sign up for the lethal injection Bill Gates wants everyone who is not a full fledged member of the elitist wealthy ruling class to get at age 80 in order to help achieve his goal of global population control.

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proudloudandfnm 3 months ago

There is nothing on earth dumber than this idiotic Bill Gates conspiracy theory. How are you so dumb tribanon? Did you practice or is it all natural?

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OMG 3 months ago

Another world conspiracy theorist surfaces. Please suggest a viable alternative. Feel free not to be vaccinated but don't complain if you catch covid and the economy continues to deteriorate. I will bet that airlines, immigration and other bodies will soon be demanding proof of vaccination for travel. Looks like you watch and believe what Trump is putting out there.

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tribanon 3 months ago

And you @OMG undoubtedly will be at the front of the line to get that micro chip impanted in your arm by big government in partnership with big high tech and big pharma. Hell, you would probably even be willing to pay a premium price for the micro chip number 666. lol

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OMG 3 months ago

Tribanon, where do you get this nonsense from"lethal injection". Of course you are free to choose but be preparedto have travel regulations stipulate that you have been innoculated. Hope you never had the polio shot as a baby, or cholera shot or tetanus shot created by scientists and produced by " big pharma" , I mean what use were they. Will I have injection ,absolutely and have the chip removed.

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tribanon 3 months ago

In the days of yore when many of us got our innoculations as young children there was no evil big pharma to speak of as there is today. Haven't you ever wondered why young children who have received innoculations in more recent times are increasingly vulnerable to all sorts of allergies and other illnesses that have them reliant on costly medications developed by today's much more evil big pharma companies?

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Honestman 3 months ago

Look it's simple. Use your brain and make a judgement call. On balance, is taking the vaccine going to be beneficial to you given all your circumstances? If yes then take it. If unsure, then don't. I am tired of listening to all these conspiracy theorists.

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tribanon 3 months ago

You can put your head in the sand all you want, but the very same high tech/big pharma bio-engineering processes being developed today for much more targeted cancer treatments, among other things, are the very same processes that can be used to create a virus like COVID-19, i.e. one that targets the killing of the very elderly and those with serious pre-existing conditions, while leaving others largely unharmed including even highly vulnerable new born infants. Just think about it for a brief moment.

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