Bahamas News

COVID crisis to make 25,000 Bahamians jobless; unemployment expected to soar to 30 percent says Prime Minister

#Nassau, The Bahamas – May 13, 2020 – With each passing day, COVID-19 is devastating the Bahamian economy.

“Not since the outbreak of World War II over 70 years ago have we lived through such a devastating impact on our economy and the livelihoods of so many Bahamians. Tourism, trade and commerce are all suffering devastating and deep blows. We are in very difficult and uncharted waters,” said Dr. Hubert Minnis, Bahamas Prime Minister on Mother’s Day during a National Address. 

As the Caribbean region braces for what is forecast to be another high performing hurricane season, countries like The Bahamas, which is still reeling from the historic hit of Hurricane Dorian last year, may see the jobless rate soar to 30 percent.

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The Prime Minister shared, “Based on applications to NIB, more than 25,000 people have been laid off or have lost their income to date.   This number will likely increase.    The initial numbers from the Treasury indicate that the tax revenues for April were just about one-half of what was collected in April, 2019.    Our unemployment rate in the near term will likely exceed an unprecedented and extraordinary 30 percent.  The entire global economy is in freefall and in unchartered territory.”

It is excruciating imagery, to accept that 25,000 Bahamians will be unemployed and as many as 12,000 others, who are work permit holders will be without a job and an income.  The future looks grim, and the Prime Minister on Mother’s Day did not attempt to paint a rosy picture.

“Even the most powerful and developed countries in the world have entered into deep recession with very high unemployment and the loss of scores of businesses, especially in service industries like tourism, hospitality and entertainment.”

It is true that the International Monetary Fund, a month ago in a video statement told the global community that the crisis precipitated by the continuing impact of the Coronavirus contagion would bring about a global recession akin to the Great Depression, which  tragically spanned a decade beginning in October of 1929.

“The IMF predicts that the economic fallout will surpass “that seen during the global financial crisis a decade ago,” said Dr. Minnis.

International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva

The Bahamas, according to the nation’s chief, is forecast to see its economy contract by 14 to 20 percent; a one-year decline.  And the driving engine, Tourism, is severely stalled.

“Our closest economic partner, the United States of America, is now seeing job losses like that of the Great Depression. By some estimates, our economy may shrink by between 14 to 20 percent during 2020.  This will represent a historic one-year decline.   Tourism, the leading engine of our economy, is being devastated.  Many businesses that closed during the lockdown are not confident they will be able to reopen once the restrictions are lifted.   We are facing a stark reality that the vast majority of us have never seen in our lifetimes,” explained Dr. Minnis.

On May 27, The Bahamas is expected to hear the fiscal plan by Dr. Hubert Minnis’ FNM Government Administration, when it presents the National Budget.

“It will be a budget that is shaped to match the unprecedented nature of the times we are living in.   What I will say at that time is that your government will ensure that social welfare allocations are expanded to meet the basic food and other core needs of those economically displaced because of COVID-19.”

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