Guyana concerned about economic and social impact of COVID-19

– PM tells PROSUR

Prime Minister, Brigadier (Ret’d) Mark Phillips, this morning said that Guyana remains deeply concerned about the economic and social impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the way in which it has reversed economic gains achieved in developing countries. 

“Guyana’s experience in sourcing financing to fight this pandemic has reinforced the fact that the international financing system has not yet adequately adapted to the current circumstances and demands for adequate and rapid financial support even in the face of lives and livelihoods at stake”.

The PM made these remarks during his virtual presentation to the sixth extraordinary meeting of the Forum for the Progress and Development of South America (PROSUR). He had highlighted similar concerns to the forum on February 25, when he called for debt write-offs and better refinancing conditions for developing countries.

Today, he said that one of the many lessons from the pandemic, is the inability of financing systems to sufficiently respond to the needs and demands of unprepared, underdeveloped and overwhelmed health care systems.

As he registered his concerns, he reiterated the call for better access to financing for developing countries, to assist with COVID-19 related challenges.

“The international financial institutions must establish innovative strategies to mitigate the financial burdens exacerbated by the pandemic. These can include – debt write-offs, debt service suspensions, increased access to concessionary international financial credit, and the elimination of classifications based on gross national income per capita which mischaracterizes and undermines efforts at resilience building and sustainable development”.

He added that Guyana supports the call for the use of vulnerability indices to help international financial institutions assess the needs of countries and deploy assistance.

The PM said too, that developing countries must now bounce back better with stronger and more resilient systems, such as improved public services and social safety nets.

“Strong and resilient systems, governments, private sector and civil society will be the foundation on which we will be better prepared to counter future downturns and global emergencies such as the one we are facing now. It is clear to all of us that this cannot be achieved without a more robust international environment, especially as it relates to responsive financing”. PROSUR is currently chaired by the President of Colombia, His Excellency, Ivan Duque.  It includes formal member states, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru and Guyana.  The first summit, called the “Meeting of Presidents of South America”, took place on March 22, 2019 in Santiago, Chile.

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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.