No one has been immune to the economic challenges the country faces. Even though the focus has been on the public sector, the private sector says that their losses have been truly significant. Belize Chamber of Commerce President Marissa Longsworth spoke about how the business community will withstand some of those shocks.
Marissa Longsworth, President, Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry: “The situation right now is, is it’s rough on the business community in general, our members and otherwise. The issue really comes down to how quickly – and this is why the point of the press release is so important – how quickly can we recover. How quickly can we start to get this engine going again. I used that analogy yesterday to say that if the engine is cold, it takes a while to heat the engine up, right, we are in a cold state right now because of how things slowed down due to COVID and then the subsequent financial crises that came thereafter. That means that there has to be an uptick in activity again. There has to be an uptick in income and revenue and a lot of that is dependent on our traditional sources of making income and revenue such as tourism. Now, let me get to another type of engine. If you buy a brand new car you have to bring that engine in before you can drive it the way you want to. Some of the new and emerging industries that are coming that we know that we will need to explore to diversify our revenue as a country that break in period also takes a while, as well. So as it relates to contingencies it’s very difficult at this point in time for the business community to have many contingencies because of the stretch that exists at this point in time. I heard it said on an interview and I have to categorically disagree with that, that the business sector and private sector did not lose any money during the pandemic, we only made adjustments to keep profit margins as high as possible, which is not accurate and I think that the shuttering of many of your favorite businesses is proof of that. That people lost money, people lost their livelihood, people returned to part time employment who were entrepreneurs before where they were able to get some amount of part time employment. Then you also have those who were employment that went into entrepreneurship as well. And so what we need to see from the country in general and what the chamber has been lobbying for is that rapid increase in activity, is that rapid introduction of economic recovery plans.”