Although the Covid-19 pandemic has been declared a public health crisis it has impacted life and livelihood in unprecedented ways and unparalleled dimensions. Countries around the globe have been forced to reassess traditional structures and institutions not only to combat the negative health consequences but also to confront the ominous threats of economic ruin and social dislocation. Undoubtedly, many industries, both well established and fledgling will have to redefine themselves in order to navigate an uncertain future.
During the first quarter of 2020 Antigua and Barbuda was poised for historic economic growth having already recorded year on year increases in tourism arrivals by both air and sea. The Gaston Browne administration had already set in place several key development pillars which were either in the initial phase of execution or about to break ground. Having recognized the potential and deleterious effects of the pandemic on the economy of Antigua and Barbuda, Prime Minister Gaston Browne moved quickly to establish and Economic Recovery Committee (ERC) comprised of representation from the major trade unions, the Hotel and Tourism Association, the Antigua and Barbuda Public Service Association, the Employers Federation, the Chamber of Commerce, the Banking Association, the Ecclesiastical Commission and the investment community. Although the Leader of the Opposition was invited to participate in this national exercise the invitation was declined. While the Prime Minister chairs the steering committee he established several sectoral sub-committees to focus on identifying key threats and opportunities and to identify areas of potential investments to stabilize and revitalize the domestic economy.
Between the period 30th April, 2020 and 23rd July, 2020 the ERC benefitted from the participation of diverse collection of some of the brightest, most talented and experienced minds in the country. It was an opportunity for broad yet focused dialogue on the stabilization and reemergence of the national economy through a common vision, purpose and plan. The ERC has become not only a forum for devising economic strategies by involving a broad cross section of stakeholders and national representation but a medium for stimulating local investment to foster a more self-sustaining and resilient economy.