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Chamber defends its advocacy for retailers amid COVID-19

The Nassau Guardian Chester Robards Nov 3rd, 2020

Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation (BCCEC) Chairperson Khrystle Rutherford-Ferguson yesterday responded to complaints that the business advocacy body is not doing enough to agitate for businesses affected by the competent authority’s curbside protocols, saying the chamber has been and continues to engage policymakers on its decisions regarding business.

A email sent to BCCEC members obtained by Guardian Business contended that the advocacy group has been “silent since March, with little to no support to the retail sector”.

The email’s author questioned why the BCCEC is not out protesting “like the rest of us”.

Rutherford-Ferguson told this paper that since March the Chamber has been very vocal about its position on getting as many businesses in full operation as safely as possible. 

“I understand that there are retailers out there that may be frustrated with the restrictions and even in my last few statements I spoke to the fact that not only restaurants, but other businesses that can’t operate via curbside would be hit the hardest by the restrictions,” said Rutherford-Ferguson.

“Our position as the Chamber has not wavered on that. We continue to advocate not just for the retailers but we also advocate for all businesses and the private sector.

“The Chamber has been very vocal about the various restrictions that have been announced time after time.

“We have been vocal in written form, television, radio and social media, as well as participating in government, civil and private sector-led consultative groups.”

She said the economic and social fallout from COVID-19 has been a “mammoth undertaking” globally and that locally, the BCCEC has been making sure that every business can operate “as quickly and as safely as possible with the least amount of restrictions possible”.

Rutherford-Ferguson added that she has warned that many businesses cannot migrate their operations quickly to curbside or even accommodate curbside pickup at all.

“So we’ve said that and we continue every opportunity we get to engage with policy makers, we advocate on behalf of our members and the entire business community and we will continue to do that,” she said.

The BCCEC has even produced protocols that have been adopted by the government, according to Rutherford-Ferguson.

“So when you talk about our advocacy, we have been everywhere,” she said.

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