Boards must have multiple plans for multiple scenarios to survive the impact of COVID-19 as the economic crisis will continue even when the health crisis is over, IFC consultant Warren Tapp says.  

IFC, a member of the World Bank Group and the Pacific Corporate Governance Institute (PCGI) delivered a webinar, “How Boards Can Chart the Course During the COVID-19 Crisis?”, which was presented by Tapp, a global expert on corporate governance.   

The webinar focused on helping board members understand their roles and responsibilities, manage risks and challenges, and improve businesses’ resilience during times of crisis and unprecedented volatility.

“Now more than ever, we realise the importance of our Pacific neighbours and the need for solidarity and unity to ensure the survival of our people through such events,” PCGI chairman and Fiji Competition and Consumer Commission CEO, Joel Abraham said.

“We are currently facing uncertain times and companies must address many challenges: keeping their workforce and customers safe, ensuring business continuity, follow-up on contractual obligations in difficult and unprecedented circumstances, possibly coping with cash flow and liquidity problems, to name but a few.”  

PCGI members who linked up from the Pacific region and South East Asian countries such as  Laos were advised to have a communication plan, disaster plan and a business continuity plan.  

“This is going to be a different world, when we come out of this pandemic. You must have a look at your current business model and see if you have to make some changes in the future- to not only survive the virus but to come out a stronger company because customer behavior is going to change,” Tapp says. 

“You can’t continue to be delivering traditional solutions, you have to find innovative ways and there are a lot of opportunities for every business to reinvent itself as it comes out of this crisis.”  

To sail through the uncharted waters of COVID-19, Tapp listed eight mistakes to avoid, which were- being complacent and not understanding the market has changed drastically locally and globally; not having multiple plans for multiple scenarios; not having enough board meetings; not communicating with stakeholders; not moving quickly enough when opportunity knocks or not understanding employment laws.  

Board members were also advised against assuming management roles or acting on information without checking its accuracy.   “Good corporate governance practices are important during crises as it provides companies with tools and mechanisms to maintain business continuity, demonstrate leadership, and build goodwill and trust within their communities,”

IFC Resident Representative to Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Kiribati and Tuvalu, Deva De Silva said.   PCGI is an independent, non-profit organization aimed at promoting principles of good corporate governance to companies in Fiji and the broader Pacific region and was established through the support of the Australian and New Zealand Governments and technical guidance by IFC.  

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