Some private businesses are struggling to keep their heads above the water as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc on the local business community. The protocols set in motion to ensure social and physical distancing along with the imposed curfew have business owners contemplating their next move, especially when it comes to the retention of staffers.
Private Sector Commission (PSC) Executive, Ramesh Dookhoo said that the restaurant sector alone is reporting a 40 to 50% decline in revenue. It is only a matter of time before businesses run out of reserves and are forced to restructure their human resources departments, which will result in more layoffs, he said.
Dookhoo made these statements and more during a PSC-organised Virtual Press Conference today, which comprised of key private sector officials including the President of the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA), Aldron Alphonso; the President of the Guyana Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), Nicholas Boyer; PSC Chairman, Captain Gerry Gouveia; PSC Executive Member, Kit Nascimento; Hotelier and Change Guyana (GC) Leader, Robert Badal; and Institute of Private Enterprise Development (IPED) Executive, Ramesh Persaud.
He said, too, that Land transportation is also down but vehicle operators are still benefitting from lower fuel costs. However, minibus operators are still complaining that they are not breaking even.
President of the Guyana Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), Nicholas Boyer reported that hardware and other retail are down by more than 50%, as the construction sector continues to see decline. He said, too, that Chamber members are having a hard time managing their cash flow.
As for Tourism, the sector has already been “flattened”, Captain Gouveia reported.
“Every side has been completely flattened because of the closure of the airports [and] because of all the scientific reasoning behind social distancing. Went from 100 miles to zero almost instantly,” he said.
The PSC Chairman said that it will take some time for the sector to gain back momentum.
He commented on the “unrealistic” measures put in place to test and quarantine persons coming into the country. He said persons being required to be tested before they arrive in Guyana and to then be tested again and quarantined for two weeks is impractical.
But not all sectors seem to be affected by the pandemic. In fact, the Mining Industry is fully operational. At least this is according to the GGDMA’s President, Alphonso, who noted that despite the slowdown by the big players in the industry, the small and medium miners are still contributing to the economy. He added that the association is working with the Pan-American Health Organisation (PAHO) to establish industry guidelines to protect miners and staffers when traversing through and working within proximity to hinterland communities.