Chamber Poll: 87% of businesses polled confirm adverse impact to global presence of COVID-19

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The vast majority of Guam businesses are adversely impacted by the global presence of the Novel Coronavirus, according to a recent Chamber poll of its membership. The Guam Chamber sent a survey to its members to evaluate how this pandemic has impacted doing business on Guam, what procedures businesses were taking to remain open and what kind of assistance was needed for companies to stay in business.

The survey revealed that of the austerity measures implemented, almost all the respondents have had to reduce employee hours, implement furloughs or layoffs. Other measures implemented by businesses include:

*Reduction in community contributions;
*Immediate freeze on expenditures;
*Reduction of inventory;
*Elimination of employee benefits;
*Temporary closure of business; and,
*Implementation of social distancing and remote work protocols.

Businesses were asked what measures would benefit their companies in this period of uncertainty and an overwhelming majority (60% of respondents) responded that a temporary reduction in the business privilege tax would be most beneficial to their businesses. 19% indicated that increasing the benefits of the Dave J Santos Small Business Act would be helpful and 7% would be interested in a small business loan. If the business privilege tax was reduced, 65% of respondents would use savings to maintain and retain employees. 22% would reinvest in business improvements. Others would pass the savings on to consumers and pay business obligations.

When respondents were asked to indicate if the Government of Guam was doing enough to help the business and its employees during this time of economic uncertainty, 77% responded that the government wasn’t doing enough while 16% responded that they were not sure, 5% responded affirmatively while 2% chose not to respond.

“The results of this survey confirm that our economy has been devastated by this global pandemic. The Coronavirus crisis has significantly impacted doing businesses on Guam and will have severe repercussions on our people’s ability to sustain themselves and their families,” said Christine Baleto, Chairwoman of the Board.

When asked to provide additional recommendations to the government in terms of relief for businesses, the most offered suggestion was any form of tax relief in the form of credit or exemption. Additional suggestions included lower cost of utilities, establishing a relief program to assist employers and employees, cut government spending.

Catherine Castro, Chamber President acknowledged that “the Guam Chamber was made aware that the Governor has recently sent a letter to US SBA requesting for disaster relief. Once approved, the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program would be activated and become available to all businesses affected by COVID-19.” She further reported that “Congressman Michael San Nicolas has been working with the Guam Chamber of Commerce to keep the business community abreast of any economic stimulus developments as they occur in Washington DC.”

“The Guam Chamber has been diligent in working for the good of the business community to keep our people employed during this trying time,” added Chairwoman Baleto. “It is our main objective to sustain and grow our economy. We will continue our dialogue with our local and federal government officials in pursuing economic relief to our working families and our local businesses.”

The poll went live on Friday afternoon, March 13, 2020 and closed at 5:30 pm on Friday, March 20th.

The Guam Chamber urges the community to follow the guidelines of Executive Order 2020-05 to ensure the safety of all residents to prevent the spread of Coronavirus on Guam.

(Information from a news release)

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