COVID-19 rate increases call for additional stimulus packages

Dear Editor,
The current increasing rate of infection due to the coronavirus will continue to negatively impact the economic activity in each region and reduce the level of employment throughout the country. This ongoing concern should encourage the Government to put in place additional stimulus to recover growth in the non-oil and gas sectors. Globally, our trade partners are also seeing a resurgence, thus expected demand for our products will be stymied going forward.
A clear new path forward for the economy has yet to be charted given the increasing concern, not to mention the dire bankrupt state of the economy inherited by the current Government.
It is unfortunate, but we simply cannot afford to spend such huge sums of money on major new infrastructure projects that do not present a clear return in the near future while also investing massive amounts of funds to bring back the sugar industry. There has yet to be declared the financial forecast of the industry and the expected revenue generation timeline.
Once this is clear, the economic growth associated with this plan will make it easier to accept additional investment in the nonproductive sectors of the economy. Parliament must have this important discussion so that it is clear to everyone as to how our economy will rebound to create jobs that are sustainable over the long term while solidifying the levels of expected growth that will sustain the massive budgetary expenditure proposed.
Once the accelerating infection rate of the virus is reduced and the phased opening of the economy has the confidence that reinfection is not an ongoing severe risk, we will be able to reignite the economic growth of the economy that is driven by small and medium-sized businesses.
These businesses do still account for a substantial part of our local economic activity and having a clear pulse on the local rates of infection will enable the coronavirus Task Force to act appropriately in that section of the population. That being said, we must know our rates of infection by region, city and NDC.
Therefore, it is becoming even more evident that the funds put aside for new infrastructural projects may be better used to support additional stimuli packages for the population impacted by the lower economic activity due to the coronavirus.
This includes our frontline medical personnel, our teachers, our other public service workers and our business owners, just to mention some of the critical household breadwinners impacted by the coronavirus. I look forward to the incumbent Government and the Opposition having a fruitful discussion that will address this important issue in the near future.

Best regards,
Jamil Changlee