Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer
The local business community has expressed a desire to move with dispatch to assist companies associated with Jamaica which have been affected by Hurricane Sandy in the United States (US).
While expressing sorrow over impact of the hurricane on the Caribbean and the US, business interests have suggested that the viability of remittances from and trade with commercial entities based in the US is likely to be placed under severe threat in the short term.
Yesterday, business leaders characterised as a major blow to the diaspora - and, by extension, a range of commercial activities, including remittances to Jamaica - the devastation that has been wrought by Hurricane Sandy on sections of the US.
President of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ), Christopher Zacca, told The Gleaner that his organisation was evaluating the matter and would, in short order, be holding discussions with its members to chart a course for the way forward.
NEED TO REACH OUT
Zacca noted that it had been only hours since the storm brought its fury to the US, but that the effect of the hurricane on sections of the American northeast had not been lost on the PSOJ.
"There is a need to reach out to the affected diaspora when the dust settles," he asserted. "Clearly, we will have to evaluate the situation and hold discussions with some of the companies such as GraceKennedy Ltd, PA Benjamin, Wysinco and other companies that are tied to the diaspora with exports and remittances as they do business in the northeast (of the US)."
For group chief executive officer at GraceKennedy, Don Wehby, the situation is quite grave.
Wehby told The Gleaner that with the remittances sector threatened, his company was already in active discussion on the way forward in facilitating a restoration programme for businesses operating in affected areas such as New York.
"From GraceKennedy's point of view, the business that we do in New York and the tri-state area, is on two fronts - remittance and food," Wehby said, predicting that the aftermath of the hurricane would present a challenge.