Republican Party's senatorial candidates Frank F. Blas, Jr. and Vincent A.V. Borja unveiled a proposal to address Guam’s economic downturn that is a consequence to the Covid-19 pandemic response.
Economics Professor Roseanne Jones of the University of Guam has projected that the island's economy will not begin to recover until 2022, BankPacific president Phil Flores anticipated the recovery to begin in 2023.
"Whether or not the recovery begins in 2022 or 2023, the livelihood of thousands of residents is dependent on recovery efforts now," Blas said.
Borja said there is frustration in the community about the lack of planning, much less an open discussion, as to what needs to be done to recover from the Covid-19 crisis.
"Because of this, businesses have been either forced to close their doors or restrict their operations. The employees were either allowed to continue to work with reduced hours or furloughed," he said. "Ultimately, many businesses servicing our island community could not afford to not operate and were left with no choice but to shut their doors for good. When this happens, an employee who was hoping one day to return to work no longer has a job he could go back to. Our island can no longer wait for its current government leaders to meaningfully address our shattered economy, hence the creation of Rx5: Guam’s Prescription for Economic Recovery.”
The Republican pair unveiled their Rx5 plan, a five-pronged coordinated approach to mitigating the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on industries and businesses, and to implement actions to fix and strengthen the island's economy.
The elements of Rx5 are Rethink, Retool, Remake, Rebuild and Rebound. While these elements complement each other, the candidates said the plan was designed to be flexible and dynamic so that the achievement of one element is not reliant on the success of another, Blas and Borja said.
Blas said each element of the plan will focus on a specific concern in order to recover. "Let’s Rethink how we do business in Guam. Let’s Retool our current and displaced workers to provide them diversity and opportunity. Let’s Remake an economy that is more resilient and prepared for any challenge. Let’s Rebuild our economy with the recognition that we are all in this together, and together is the way our community survives. Let's Rebound from this calamity the way we've rebounded from disasters before."
Blas said the economic experts' bleak forecast for the economy is concerning. "What compounds the concern is that there appears to be no interest, urgency, or another idea to address our current economic condition and what it will be in the future,” he added.