Stimulus measures to boost the economy now but thoughts on future business operations and practices

Dear Editor,
You might wish to consider this letter.
Yours sincerely,
Frank Short

In the Solomon Islands, I believe the Prime Minister and the Cabinet will be working on a package of stimulus measures to try and mitigate the impact that the coronavirus threat has had on the national economy and the lives of Solomon Islanders, despite the fact, and thankfully, coronavirus has so far been kept at bay.

The measures the government will take will be announced soon, I suspect, but will probably be in line with the kind of stimulus actions taken in Samoa and Vanuatu in recent weeks.

The Chairman of the Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI) Mr. Jay Bartlett has predicted hard times ahead for business and my own feeling is there will be an economic contraction this year arising from coronavirus concerns and the preventative measures and restrictions already in place.

In the wider context of economic and social challenge facing the world, the impact on business, as we know it, will be profound.  How will companies navigate through the still developing crises, ensuring business continuity, saving jobs and securing talent when the window of recovery opens again?

In the Solomon Islands, the Heritage Park Hotel has had to lay off some 80 to 100 local workers occasioned by cancelled reservations and the temporary end to visitor arrivals.

In Australia Qantas has laid off staff and grounded much of its air fleet. In the United Kingdom British Airways is deciding, today, whether to lay off more than 35,000 of its staff, having grounded 80 percent of its aircraft.

Solomon Airways has also seen its international services ended for now and staff put on leave.

In countries like, Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea and in China, important adjustments have had to be made to work arrangements for companies that remain open and home based working led to the use of flexible technology platforms enabling staff to work remotely and safely.

The COVID-19 crisis was impossible to predict with conventional wisdom and forecasting and, whatever the Solomon Islands government decides to include in its stimulus package, I believe it should help business tide over the short-term challenges, while companies should assess how they may best serve their individual circumstances.

I will end however, by posing the question whether the technology now brought into greater use today, becomes the norm business will be conducted in the future when the coronavirus pandemic is no longer a threat to the world and global business operations?  

Fewer employees, fewer offices, cost savings on office and building maintenance, electricity water, telephones, travel expenses – and with faster communications and video conferencing, to name but a few of the cost reductions and advantages in business operations with the greater use of technology.

Yours sincerely

Frank Short