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‘National development plan would have softened pain of COVID-19’

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Gowon Bowe

By KHRISNA RUSSELL

Tribune Chief Reporter

krussell@tribunemedia.net

A NATIONAL development plan would have softened the blow of COVID-19, contended a noted banker yesterday, adding a recent regional report applies common sense logic to the way forward.

A recent joint report by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean and the Pan American Health Organisation has highlighted that the region is particularly vulnerable because of its high levels of labour informality, urbanisation, poverty, and inequality, and its weak health and social protection systems, in addition to the fact that it has large population groups living in vulnerable conditions and who require special attention.

It further notes that while Caribbean countries have managed to control the pandemic more quickly, in Latin America infection levels continue to rise.

However, its main conclusion is that if the pandemic transmission curve is not brought under control, the countries’ economies will be unable to recover. It also notes that, in order to both control the pandemic and reopen the economy, states must demonstrate effective and dynamic leadership and stewardship through national plans that incorporate health, economic and social policies.

Gowon Bowe, Fidelity Bank (Bahamas) chief executive officer, said the recommendations make practical sense.

“The context of this is a very practical sense but it may be a bit overstated because ultimately the economy can’t stop the same way health can’t stop,” Mr Bowe said yesterday. “So, what they are stressing is you have to put the priority on making sure that you are tackling health so that you enable or facilitate economic activity because without one you don’t have the other and the reality is if you don’t have income you can’t tackle health.

“If the government doesn’t have revenue or if an individual doesn’t have a salary paying for medical facilities or treatment is difficult.

“But what I think is the most critical point they put out is really saying that there has to be dynamic leadership and stewardship through a national plan. I may have been called ‘Mr National Development Plan’ and I will continue to beat that drum.

“If you read the undertone of what they’re saying is those nations that had a national development plan would be addressing it better and let me put it in the context of the Bahamas, I totally agree.

“If you look at the pillars of the national development plan that The Bahamas had embarked upon several years ago you had the economic pillar which everyone knows is fairly easy this is the economy.

“It has a social pillar which included health, education, the family structure, the social safety programme etc and when you read through this report they are talking about income and equality, they are talking about access to education and access to healthcare, but part of the social pillar was national health insurance. Part of the social pillar was the plans for education including getting the largest budget allocation, but not getting the returns from it. So, when you think about just those two pillars you see the interdependence and the third pillar was governance.”

He continued: “So had we been more aggressive in finalising or implementing a national development plan would it have stopped the pandemic hitting the Bahamas? No. Would it have prevented us from suffering with the rest of world? No, but it would have given us a chartered course that we would have been able to follow.”

Comments

mrsmith 1 year, 11 months ago

Then too bad the National Development Plan wasn't actually a plan.

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