Tonight’s ‘Tackling COVID’ forum will see four-person panel focussing on pandemic’s effect on the local economy

The final virtual public forum in the five-part “Tackling COVID-19” series will be hosted this evening, October 19.  A panel of highly qualified local, regional and international experts will focus on the impact of the pandemic on the economy.

The event, which will be moderated by Dr. Jacqui Quinn, will discuss ideas and collective action that potentially could boost the country’s competitiveness and generate robust economic recovery.

This week’s panelists will include Professor Justin Robinson, Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences and Pro Vice-Chancellor for the Board for Undergraduate Studies at The UWI. 

Erica Henry-Jackman, the Coordinator of Foreign Director Investment, Africa and the Caribbean, for the City of Brampton, Canada, will be present, as well.

Local experts Martin Cave, Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce, and Cassandra Simon, a business consultant with Accounting Solutions, will round out the panel.

This week’s forum is critically important, given that the COVID-19 pandemic has not only created a public health crisis, but has also caused major disruption in public services, employment and trade opportunities.

This, the United Progressive Party says, has had an adverse effect on households and businesses, leading to an almost crippling global economic slowdown. 

“While social distancing and lockdowns have worked successfully to drive infection rates down, widespread business closures have dealt a severe blow to the economy,” the Party notes.

Therefore, it fears that the longer the crisis  is prolonged, the greater is the probability of bankruptcies, and these will starve the economy of well-needed credit for recapitalizing businesses.

Tourism, the largest income earner in Antigua and Barbuda, accounting for more than 70% of the country’s GDP, is one of the sectors most severely impacted by the pandemic.

“Every aspect of this vast value chain has been affected, leading to a major contraction in the vulnerable small business sector,” the UPP says.

The forum begins at 7:30 p.m. and will be aired on this station, Progressive 107.3 FM, and streamed live on the MYUPP Facebook page.