Should Parliament be focused on the budget today with Jamaica recording its first case of coronavirus?

Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton.

Today is budget day in Parliament. Today, Jamaica’s first case of the new coronavirus (COVID-19) was also announced by Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton.

The woman contracted the disease in the United Kingdom from where she had travelled to Jamaica. Coronavirus which broke out in China is fast becoming a pandemic with cases and deaths recorded in many parts of the world.

Should the government be paying attention to the budget with coronavirus now on Jamaica’s shores? Shouldn’t the coronavirus and contingency plans be concentrating the minds of parliamentary representatives as they seek to protect the welfare of the citizens in their constituencies?

The Budget is likely to be rendered inapplicable if Jamaica is besieged by coronavirus. The Minister of Health will need more resources. The country’s workforce may well have to remain at home which will impact productivity. The tourism industry may well take a hit meaning inflows of foreign exchange will diminish which is not good news for the economy.

What does the government plan to do about price gouging? Will the country be placed under lockdown and when is that likely to begin? There are many questions to be answered.