The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated the world of work, affecting people’s lives, health and wellbeing, and it has had a dramatic effect on enterprises, jobs and livelihoods throughout the world.
This public health crisis has also generated massive economic and social disruption in every country, including the Pacific region. As tourism plays a major role in local Pacific economies, despite avoiding the
worst health effects of the Covid-19, the devastation due to lockdowns and travel bans are significantly affecting businesses across the region. According to the latest Pacific Economic Monitor report of the Asian Development Bank, despite recording fewer than 100 coronavirus cases in total, the 14 Pacific economies were forecast to shrink an average of 4.3 per cent this year due to the collapse of trade and tourism, with double-digit contractions expected in the most tourism-dependent nations.
Governments have taken unprecedented measures to combat the spread of the virus and to protect people’s lives. Lockdowns and other restrictive measures, however, have had a deep impact on economies, job markets and societies, and the global economy is sliding into a recession. Supply chains
are disintegrating, sectors are collapsing, enterprises are closing, and more and more workers are losing their incomes and livelihoods. Many micro and small enterprises are at risk of bankruptcy.
To ameliorate those detrimental consequences, most countries have deployed large-scale fiscal and monetary packages to stimulate the economy and protect people’s income and well-being. Recognizing
the importance of keeping business going, governments are helping enterprises cope by offering employment subsidies, cost subsidies, and tax payment delays as well as other measures to rebuild the economy and recover from the crisis.
The success of the recovery will depend critically on policies enacted during the crisis. Different phases of the pandemic require different policy responses, and governments must find the right policy balance.
Interventions must be sustained and implemented on the right scale. Social dialogue at both the national and workplace levels, is critical at all stages of the pandemic to develop effective policy responses and sustainable solutions to the various issues emerging in the wake of COVID-19.
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