Guyana on a downturn from protracted election, COVID-19

Dear Editor,
A section of the media published an article on May 28, 2020, “PSC requests no quarantine for stranded Guyanese with negative COVID test”. I agree with the point of the PSC where they attempt to address the affordability of Guyanese citizens stranded across the world and the further cost of coming home as opposed to staying wherever they are.
We appreciate the strategies and ideas discussed by your respected bodies and the constant fight to further protect the lives of the Guyanese people while supporting the business community during this economic slump. Gita Gopinath, IMF’s Chief Economist, referred to this financial crisis the entire world is going through as “The Great COVID Lockdown”, now the real question is why is it that only two private facilities (the hotels which will serve as quarantine facilities) are a part of this initiative? Why aren’t more hotels being used?
How were these two hotels shortlisted, what criteria were used? Not only to give more options to the people who will be coming home but to help the economy. Why wasn’t it public knowledge that the National COVID-19 Task Force (NCTF) was interested in allowing hotels to house persons who chose to do so?
The idea should be pitched to the Government representatives that are currently running the show. Why not display another alternative, asking for other hotels and housing facilities to have the opportunity to rent their facilities as these businesses are also attempting to survive during the pandemic and by doing so enables an equal opportunity for employees of the businesses which are mostly Guyanese to earn a living during these hard times.
The hospitality industry isn’t the only industry that could provide services to these citizens during their 14-day quarantine. What about the food catering industry? Where these businesses are given the opportunity to provide services at a competitive price as these persons also need food to survive since different persons also have different food preferences.
Why is food being screened by the civil defence force? Why weren’t contracts negotiated with businesses and market vendors to provide food items to persons while also certifying that these items have not been in contact with persons that had COVID-19? How can the Civil Defence Commission completely certify items delivered to them by families of the quarantined persons that the items do not contain COVID-19? (Which is encouraging congregations at their facilities I must say.) In an attempt at preventive measures, why wasn’t there an increase in health measures to allow the food industry the ability to still allow cooked food to these citizens?
Also, the transportation industry, known as “taxis”, could be allowed to deliver food items that the citizens prefer, whether it is from fast food enterprises or market stalls. This enables a further group of individuals to earn money to afford basic living essentials.
Articles further published by news agencies have identified the number of layoffs businesses are facing, however, no word from the Government of the day of cutbacks or measures that will enable the improvement our current standard of living situation. There is a worldwide economic downturn, some economists fear this global recession could last a very long time and that is is the worst recession since the Great Depression.
There is a need for opportunities. If the opportunity was presented to the public, it would enable price competition which is described by Cambridge University as “the situation in which companies try to sell their products or services at lower prices than similar products or services sold by other companies”. In simpler terms, this would be allowing businesses to compete to produce at a lower cost which enables more persons to afford private facilities opposed to choosing the public facilities offered for “free”.
To be honest, if you could afford the cost of the private institution, would you choose it rather than the State facilities? Finally, we should remember Guyana is not only going through a downturn from the turmoil of the election, but now also because of COVID-19, and the world is in a recession.

Stephen Demille