Gov’t looking to increase COVID-19 assistance funds

— ironing out disbursement method  

DPI, Guyana, Friday, August 14, 2020 

The PPP/C Government is currently ironing out how it will disburse the $4.5Billion direct assistance, in a transparent manner while reaching those people who are most in need of help as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Vice President, Hon. Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo, made this disclosure during a press briefing, Friday afternoon, at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC).

In his inauguration address, President of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, His Excellency, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali, announced that his administration had commenced work on securing an initial $4.5Billion as an emergency response to help at the household-level in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There is a large number of people out there who need assistance from the Government of Guyana, through either assistance with food to feed their families or cash assistance,” Vice President Jagdeo explained. 

In terms of the assistance announced by the President, the Vice President added, “we are looking at raising it and how best to disperse it rapidly”.

He noted that the challenge now is sourcing that fund.

“The major issue now is, whether we can use money from the treasury, or whether we can raise this in the interim before there is a Budget through borrowing, and once the Budget is passed, to repay that loan.”

Vice President Jagdeo also sought to provide an update on the amount spent on direct assistance to citizens across the country thus far. He said, through the Civil Defense Commission (CDC), approximately $75Million was expended.

“In terms of direct assistance, even with CDC, I did a quick costing while making a presentation; it could not be more than $75Million of direct assistance to the people in the communities who need the help.”

This is in addition to the billions of dollars spent on the COVID-19 hospital, located on the East Coast of Demerara, which the Vice President has deemed “useless”.

He said that it was shocking to find major deficiencies in the country’s plan to curb the spread of the virus; noting that there was no fixed number for daily tests, and health officials were oblivious about the country’s testing, quarantine and isolation capabilities. The new PPP/C Administration also found a highly “politicised” unit with no qualified health personnel of someone with socioeconomic background.

Under this PPP/C Government, a response unit was established to ramp up efforts to fight the virus.

These efforts include the revamping of the task force at the policy-level including the Prime Minister, and Minister of Health, who will be given broad policy directive; working along with international organisations and implementing a technical structure to deal with the medical response as well as the socioeconomic response.

After just a week in office, the new PPP/C Administration was also able to secure 10,000 testing kits from the Prime Minister of Barbados, Hon. Mia Mottley, and an additional 50,000 kits are being procured, as well as testing machines.

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Coronavirus disease spreads primarily through contact with an infected person when they cough or sneeze. It also spreads when a person touches a surface or object that has the virus on it, then touches their eyes, nose, or mouth. We urge citizens to practice good hygiene and social or physical distancing also adhere to the guidelines provided by the Ministry of Health, Guyana.