President Dr Irfaan Ali has announced that his government is in the process of securing an initial $4.5B for COVID-19 emergency response at the household level.
Dr Ali made the announcement during his address at his inauguration ceremony held at the National Cultural Center.
According to Ali, “the COVID-19 pandemic has already claimed too many lives.”
“Everything possible must be done to protect our people from this dreaded and dreadful disease. That is why, as President, I will personally and urgently participate in my Government’s programme to stop infection by the Coronavirus, curb its spread, and safeguard the health of our nation,” he said.
Ali explained that with respect to completing a rapid assessment, he has already begun to establish a structure to tackle the virus as effectively as possible,
The Head of State announced the creation of Covid-19 Response Unit comprising Government policymakers, represented by the Prime Minister and the Minister of Health, and our regional and international partners such as CARICOM, PAHO, and UNDP.
The Unit will be guided by a collaborative policy to address medical responses and to create a Covid-19 impact socio-economic plan for the people.
“Since taking office in just one week, we have mobilized and received 46,000 rapid antibody-test kits, Personal Protection Equipment, approximately 240,000 surgical masks, and face shields, gowns and other urgently needed supplies.
“In addition to the rapid test kits, the Prime Minister of Barbados, the Honourable Mia Mottley, is sending us an additional 15,000 PCR test kits which are even now en route to Guyana.
“By next week we should receive another 10,000 PCR kits from PAHO with a commitment to supply an additional 40,000 PCR kits.”
Moreover, Ali said his government has accessed three PCR testing machines with two more being sourced, and plans are in motion to train persons, including persons from the hinterland areas, in the use of the PCR machines and rapid test kits.
He revealed that his government has met with the Governor of the Central Bank and directed him to extend regulatory permission so as to allow for bankers to continue extending moratoriums.
“We have also looked at the possibility of adjusting the Reserve Requirement which will allow the banks to have more disposable resources and tying that adjustment with lower interest rate”
He also said the government started to examine from a fiscal perspective what support we can give to the private sector and other groups all with the view of supporting a resumption of the economic activities and putting people back to work.
According to Ali “we have reached out to several multilateral and bilateral sources with a view to urgently mobilise financial resources of the magnitude that is necessary to overcome the effects of this pandemic. I must say the response has been encouraging.”