“12-18 months does not appear, in my estimation, to be unreasonable at this stage but we are still assessing as we go,” Timothy Antoine, Governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank said in an update on the economic impact of Covid19 on the region.
A recession is projected for the countries of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union: Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, Saint Kitts & Nevis, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent & The Grenadines, all dependent on tourism.
Antoine says “The global economy is now in recession and in the ECCU, we project a sharp contraction in 2020.”
Specifying that these figures are average across the region, he said, “Our latest numbers indicate that that contraction may be somewhere in the vicinity of 10-20%.
The biggest driver is tourism which is now all but non-existent he said listing, “foreign exchange, jobs, government revenue,” concluding that “our tourism sector has ground to a halt.”
As for the recovery of the regional economy and a way out of that recession, Antoine says the consequences could likely last at least a year.
“At this moment, the biggest question is when will tourism rebound. Truth be told, we do not really know. In all likelihood, the economic damage of this pandemic will outlast the pandemic and in the absence of a vaccine, we are likely to have a protracted recovery process,” he surmises.
Meantime, up to half of the working population could be unemployed in some countries of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union, according to data from the Central Bank.
“We have seen a sharp rise in unemployment across the currency union,”he reported. “In at least two countries, unemployment is approaching 50%
“Governments across the currency union are seeing revenues plummet by as much as 50% and in some cases, it is actually more, in one country it is close to 75%,” Governor Antoine reported adding that hotels are closed, jobs are being lost and businesses are being shut.
He said further that based on unemployment figures overseas, remittances- money sent as gifts from loved ones overseas- could take a different direction with regional residents sending money to the US and UK instead of receiving.