The Joint Chambers of Commerce and the Confederation of Regional Business Chambers, have reiterated their support for Government, and restated their commitment to collaborating, to steer the country through the current COVID-19 crisis.

The full text of the Joint Statement, follows…

The  Joint  Chambers  of  Commerce,  in  collaboration  with  the  Confederation  of  Regional Business Chambers,  recognize  that  this  is  an  unsettling  time  for  everyone.  It  also  presents  a  unique  and challenging business environment, and this is likely to be exacerbated by the necessary restrictions on the movement of people.

In particular, we acknowledge the advent of COVID-19 creates an unusual set of circumstances for families. This is a human issue that demands a human response, and we must work collectively to ensure that families are supported and secure during this period of uncertainty. The Chambers are deeply committed to keeping our people safe and healthy and to stopping the spread of the virus.

In this regard, the various Chambers are actively collaborating with Government to initiate steps to safeguard  the  health  and  wellbeing  of the  working  population and  to  guide  and  support  its members  to  addressing  the  issue  of  business  continuity.  We  support  recent  measures  by  the Ministry of Health to curtail large gatherings, to close schools and to implement travel restrictions. These are both sensible and responsible decisions.

Following  the  Ministry  of  Labour  and  Small,  Medium  and  Enterprise  Development’s  appeal  for private sector to implement leave policies that facilitate parents who need to stay at home to look after their children, the Prime Minister has announced that schools will now remain closed, for four weeks, until  April  20th.    The  Chambers  support  the  suggestion  that  businesses  look  at  creative options to  maintain  operations  during  this period,  with  the  aim  of  preserving  jobs  and  keeping businesses alive.

COVID-19  places  additional  pressures  to  the  ease  and  cost  of  doing  business.  The  Chambers are optimistic that the discussions initiated between Government and private sector, will be treated with requisite urgency and create the appropriate mechanisms to support the continuity of trade and thereby employment, over the next few weeks.

It is clearly not business as usual. It is in fact a new normal for us, and for trade across the globe. We cannot do it alone. We will rely on our Government, the private sector and our community to continue working together. This is a time for constructive conversation and decisive action, and we are  encouraged  by  the  willingness  and  commitment  of  the Chambers  and Government  to  find thoughtful and informed solutions to the current challenges.