Early prognosis is pointing in the direction of massive job losses in Grenada in the next few months due to the presence of the deadly coronavirus.
A number of private sector businesses are right now seeking to engage the trade unions representing their employees to start a conversation on workers being laid off due to a significant downturn in economic activities on the island.
Aviation Services of Grenada (ASG), which is owned by the Grenada Airports Authority (GAA) that runs the Maurice Bishop International Airport (MBIA), is sending home over 150 workers at the end of this week for the next three months.
It is not certain whether this move should be interpreted as a clear signal from the authorities that the international airport at Point Salines will be closed at least until the end of July in the first instance.
THE NEW TODAY will not be lured into that sense of false hope as our Prime Minister is known to be more than anxious to re-open Grenada to the outside world for many reasons.
ASG has not been making money since the closure of the airport on March 22 and is seemingly not in a financial position to keep the workers on the payroll for the next 90 days at least.
Two of the major retail stores on the island – Courts G’da Limited and Jonas Browne & Hubbard’s – have sent out signal to the Commercial & Industrial Workers Union (CIWU) that the time is ripe for discussions to start on the way forward in light of the disruption of their businesses because of the coronavirus.
One of the leading hoteliers in the True Blue area has come out publicly to indicate that he might not be able to pay workers next month and the union representing the employees will have to be engaged in a discussion on the way forward.
THE NEW TODAY suspects that most of the other hotels operating around the island will be in a similar position as tourism is a major casualty of the virus.
The travel industry has come to a virtual standstill with most major airlines grounded due to a significant drop in bookings and the closure of many airports as countries lockdown to protect their people against the coronavirus which has been sweeping across the globe for the past three to four months.
The harsh reality is that most persons are afraid of air travel at the moment as the spread of the virus from one country to another came about due to the airline industry.
The virus which had its origin in China was brought to other East Asian countries by passengers who then facilitated its movement from there to other countries in Europe and then the United States and then into our own Caribbean region.
In Grenada itself, the major concern is now that of community spread of the virus since the island had shut itself from the outside world more than 38 days ago.
The most recent COVID-19 cases that are now emerging on the island will be a worry for the authorities and their ambitions to re-open Grenada to the outside world.
Health Minister Nicholas Steele gave strong hints over the weekend that Grenadians might have to get used to having the virus around but locals are frightened of getting in contact with the disease.
Like the old people have said over the years “talk is cheap” and Mr. Steele and the rest of the Cabinet Ministers under the leadership of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell should be extremely careful of opening up the island to the outside world on the basis of putting money before the health and welfare of the population.
The recent experiences of Japan and Singapore in which tight restrictions were lifted too soon, resulting in a second wave of the deadly virus will be uppermost in the minds of many countries now giving thought to re-opening their economies.
Grenada will have to rely on reliable and reputable scientists who have a history of research work in viruses for guidance on the steps to be taken against the present coronavirus.
Our medical experts have not done any work in this field of the science and the real scientists have been talking of a possible second wave of COVID-19 that will follow and that opening up our own borders too soon might have certain severe consequences for us.
THE NEW TODAY is warning people that troubling days are ahead and the government should start addressing in a serious manner a budget for employment relief for workers who will lose jobs which should be separate and distinct from a financial stimulus package to get some businesses back up and running at the right time.
It is also appropriate for this newspaper to make a special appeal to those involved in the failed Shrimp Farm project in Victoria that if they are still illegally holding money that belongs to the government and people of Grenada to return it as part of a humanitarian gesture.
Grenada needs its money now to address a number of burning issues facing the country including massive job losses as a result of the virus.
The reality of the situation is that people were sold passports, received the passports, the project was not done as promised so money passed and should rightfully belong to the people of the Tri-island State.
It is our firm view that those involved in the Shrimp Farm project should return the ill-gotten financial gains on the backs of the Grenadian people who need this money in our current crisis.