Funding being accessed to boost COVID-19 fight – Min. Jordan
DPI, Guyana, Thursday, March 19, 2020
As the government ramps up its efforts to mitigate the spread of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) it has requested additional funds from the World Bank to aid its efforts.
Finance Minister Hon. Winston Jordan explained that an initial request of $1Billion (US $5M) is being considered by the World Bank,
“I have received a letter stating that they are looking at our request… I will do everything that I can within this period, to try to make certain that the request is being processed and that we can access the funding,” he said.
The Finance Minister said the request comes even as His Excellency President David Granger instituted constitutional emergency powers to facilitate emergency spending
“So far at the domestic level, the only budget agency requesting funding is the Ministry of Public Health. We have disbursed to them approximately $120 Million, of which $73 Million was in capital expenditure and $28.4 Million was in current expenditure,” Minister Jordan stated.
The Finance Minister explained that funds are being utilised to equip quarantine sites at the various border points, including the airports; to purchase medical kits, gear and equipment. The effort is being led by the ministerial task force with the funds directed by the Finance Ministry.
Minister Jordon noted however that the World Bank’s procedures may not be speedy enough given the rate at which the pandemic is spreading globally. More funds may be requested if the need arises and other financial agencies have been engaged, according to the minister.
“The Islamic Development Bank of which we are a member is also putting in place another facility; another rapid response for their members and hopefully once we get clearance from there, we will see what gaps remain after the World Bank’s intervention…to see if we could access funding from the Islamic Bank.”
On March 20, the Inter-American Development Bank is also is set to host a Caribbean stakeholder Skype meeting with regional banking officials. This meeting, Minister Jordan said, will ascertain the possible regional economic impacts and how the bank can be of assistance.