Thursday 29 September 2022

“Reopening” the economy is urgent, but little by little, according to business sector

Improving the virus detection system (testing) would be vital

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29 September 2022 - At The Banks - BCCR

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Reopen the shops that are closed today with a capacity of 50%, make the hours of vehicle restriction more flexible so that it starts at 9:00 pm and allowing non-essential businesses to open on weekends with restricted capacity are some of the measures the business sector is asking to activate the economy amid the Coronavirus health crisis.

Mitigating the impact of the disease on companies and jobs is the goal, since continuing along the same restrictive path will affect the economy even more, resulting in thousands of more jobs lost.

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One of the proponents of getting the economy reactivated is Julio Castilla, president of the Costa Rican Chamber of Commerce, who says the retail sector reports a decrease in sales of up to 80%.

“We make an urgent call to the government to gradually return to the opening of formal economic activity, since the crisis generated by Covid-19, has caused serious consequences,” added Castilla.

Until the vaccine is available, the country will have to find a balance between keeping the contagion rate close to zero and at the same time, “reopening Costa Rica,” said Gisela Sánchez, president of AmCham.

In this sense, massive and decentralized “proactive testing” would help to quickly detect and isolate positive cases.

“The private sector has donated equipment and thousands of kits so that more testing can be done in a decentralized manner in the country. Additionally, massive immunological testing should begin,” Sánchez said.

Reducing the impact of the Coronavirus on the economy is vital considering that the emergency will leave a fiscal deficit of more than 8% of GDP, as well as a decrease and unemployment figures above 20%.

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On March 6, Costa Rica reported its first case of Coronavirus and since the government enacted measures that included the partial closing of the borders by prohibiting the entry of tourists; applied a strict vehicle license plate restriction at night; ordered closed non-essential businesses, such as restaurants and entertainment centers on weekends; in addition to halving the hours of operations of retailers and other businesses with direct contact with customers.

Moving forward, the Government needs to find resources to manage debt, subsidize affected sectors with loans, provide incentives and make structural adjustments to overcome the economic downturn.

On Sunday, President Carlos Alvarado forwarded that a major announcement will be made today, during the mid-day press briefing, of the measures that will attempt to move Costa Rica forward, without slipping back.

Alvarado stressed the plan will need the full cooperation of one and all.

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