Govt mulls stimulus package

—Funding needed to boost COVID-19 fight -Min. Jordan

DPI, Guyana, Tuesday, April 7, 2020

The Government is considering several proposals to offer relief to various sections of the country to cushion the financial fallout from COVID-19 effects.

This was disclosed by Finance Minister Winston Jordan via a skype interview.

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Minister of Finance Winston Jordan

He cited the reduction of Value Added Tax on several items as part of the fight against the pandemic. “For example, VAT on water, electricity, domestic air travel, has been removed.”

“Most recently, we have considerably reduced the price of fuel. We have to study every measure… We have to go through that, cost it and see the viability of it and everything else…before we can even begin to say it is a measure we can put in place,” he added.

Minister Jordan made clear that government has its regular functions to perform. These include the payment of salaries, even as it faces huge expenses in the COVID-19 fight.

He emphasised, that thus far, the government has been able to keep public servants, fully salaried on the payroll and for this reason, finances must be properly managed. The minister reminded that the government creates revenue through taxes and any further reduction can lead to an economic crisis.

“This quarter we expect a dramatic reduction in revenues because of the slow-down in business activities and hence a shortfall in taxes etc.,” Minister Jordan said.

The Finance Minister noted everything has to be considered to ensure whatever is agreed to is viable and “can be financed in whatever way, whilst not reducing the level of services the government has been able to deliver to the population.”

Moves such as those by Republic Bank, to assist the regional territories in which they operate and the push by some companies, such as DDL, to assist is necessary and welcomed at this time Minister Jordan noted.

Whilst the Natural Resources Fund is available, the minister noted this can only be accessed with parliamentary approval.

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