Pres. Ali stresses need for balance in health and economic wellbeing

The Government of His Excellency, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali, has taken the approach of protecting the health of the Guyanese people even as it moves to ensure the economy does not deteriorate to a point of greater harm.

President Ali was asked Wednesday evening about allegations that his Administration was prioritising business over the people’s health. The question was put to the Head of State during a sideline meeting at the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association awards event.

“Since we came in all we have done so far is restructure all of the expenditure profiles to benefit the health sector, to respond to Covid, to help us in the fight against Covid. Look at what is going on around us; so, it’s not prioritising anything ahead of us, it’s balance,” Dr. Ali said.

He noted that the Covid guidelines still include the curfew, which runs from 10.30 pm to 4 am. The Government has been consistent in its call for people to observe the Covid preventative guidelines.

However, the President has said the country could not remain in lockdown forever since the economic fallout could be devastating.      

“We have to be able to manage in a Covid environment but we cannot do so being continuously locked away… If we continue in this lockdown mode, hopefully the vaccine comes, after that, the magnitude of the economic and social impact would create another nightmare for us,” President Ali said back in September.

He added that as a developing country, Guyana will need to ensure that measures continue to be in place to deal with the health aspect, but business must restart as part of a comprehensive plan for economic recovery.

Dr. Ali urged people to look at the investment profile since the PPP/C took office if they wanted to see where his Government’s priority lies. The interest from investors has been overwhelming since the PPP/C entered office in August even as the Administration sought to remedy the wreck of a health sector the APNU+AFC left behind.

Earlier in the evening, the President said his Government is currently doing a comprehensive assessment of the healthcare system.

“The healthcare system is broken, it is not working, and we will be fixing it. It has received great setbacks over the last five years and we have to fix it and the private sector must play a role in helping us fix it.”

Guyana’s capacity to identify and treat COVID-19 cases has increased significantly under the PPP/C Administration. Additionally, upgrading health facilities countrywide and ensuring they have adequate drugs and equipment for normal operations have been a priority.  

Some $51.7 billion was allocated the health sector in this year’s Emergency Budget. The money was earmarked to address immediate needs, purchase drugs and medical supplies, test kits and antiretrovirals for HIV patients, enhance the diagnostic imaging capacity of many of the hospitals, improve several infrastructural defects at facilities across the country, and to improve the quality of health care provided to citizens.

The budget measures also included the removal of the 25 per cent corporate tax on private healthcare and the removal of value-added tax on medical supplies.

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