The Government of India is currently examining a request made by the Guyana Government to divert US$1 million of development funding towards its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is according to Commerce and Development Cooperation Counsellor at the Indian High Commission in Georgetown, Vijayakumar Kizhapate.
Head of the National COVID-19 Task Force (NCTF), Moses Nagamootoo had disclosed on April 11 that Guyana is “pursuing assistance from India by way of the Indian grant to Caribbean countries of US$14 million. We are making approaches for them to – it’s a low hanging fruit as it were – to utilise Guyana’s allocation for supplies relevant to COVID-19.”
During the first India-Caricom (Caribbean Community) Summit in New York in September 2019, India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, had announced three offers of assistance to the Caribbean including a US$14 million grant (US$ 1 million per Caricom member state) for quick impact community development projects in Caricom countries.
However, when asked for an update on Guyana’s request to redirect its share of the grant, that is, US$1 million, towards its fight against the novel coronavirus, Kizhapate told INews that, “…we are working on Guyana’s request.”
While Guyana is awaiting permission, the Indian Government has given approval to its sister Caricom country of Antigua and Barbuda.
A statement from the Indian High Commission in Georgetown, which also has responsibility for the island-state, disclosed that in the context of the current situation of COVID-19, India has approved US$1 million for community development projects in Antigua and Barbuda, with immediate assistance of US$150,000 for medical supplies and equipment.
This assistance, the Mission noted, is extended considering the urgent nature of the request involving procurement of life-saving equipment. It said the United Nations Development Programme Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (UNDP OECS) and Barbados have indicated that procurement of medical supplies and equipment has already been completed, and they are now waiting to receive the shipment in two weeks.