Guyana blanked from US$67M CDB funding to Caribbean in COVID-19 fight

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Dr. Wm. Warren Smith, President, CDB. (Photo via CDB)

The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) has announced that US $67 million will be made available to several Caribbean countries. Conspicuously absent from that list is Guyana.

According to a statement announcing the multilateral COVID funding, the bank’s Board of Directors approved the emergency loans on Monday. Guyana’s South American neighbour, Suriname, is slated to receive US$8.2 million from that money.

Also, on the list are Antigua and Barbuda (US$13 million), Belize (US$15 million), Dominica (US$2.5 million), Grenada (US$5.9 million), Saint Lucia (US$10.8 million), St Vincent and the Grenadines (US$11.3 million).

CDB President, Dr William Warren Smith was quoted as saying that “the provision of support to the seven countries to respond to COVID-19 and keep critical Government services and operations running is urgent to halt the economic decline and minimise social hardship, while giving focused attention to the most vulnerable people.”

In explaining the basis for the loans, the CDB explained that they are concessional and will allow Governments the fiscal space they need to meet their financial needs without diverting resources away from other social or health expenses.

“Caribbean countries are especially vulnerable to the global outbreak due to their heavy dependence on tourism for income and employment. According to CDB estimates, many of these countries, including those which will be supported with emergency loans, will fall into recession this year,” the CDB observed in the statement.

“It is expected that the social impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic will be significant, stemming from an increase in unemployment, and loss of income and livelihoods, as well as substantial disruptions of social services, with women, female heads of households and children, persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples, and migrants as the most vulnerable groups,” the development bank said.

It is unclear whether Guyana applied to the CDB for an emergency loan. Efforts to contact Finance Ministry officials for clarity were futile. However, Guyana’s omission follows a pattern, broken only by the United States providing US$475,000 recently.

Otherwise, Guyana’s application for help from the World Bank since March 2020, has so far not yielded any success. The application to the World Bank, for a US$5 million loan, was still not approved as of a few days ago.

Persons, including caretaker Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo himself, have posited that Guyana’s access to foreign assistance could be hampered by the unresolved state of Guyana’s elections and the unstable political atmosphere.

It has been almost two months since citizens all over the country cast their vote, but results from this process are nowhere in sight. In fact, they were hampered by several unlawful moves and court cases, most of which were sponsored by the coalition.

This has resulted in warnings from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and the European Union countries and reputable international agencies for an immediate resolution to these issues. At present, the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) is conducting a recount under the watchful eyes of stakeholders.