National Assembly to debate $10B emergency funds for flood relief on Monday
Senior Minister with responsibility for Finance, Dr Ashni Singh, on Thursday tabled two Financial Papers in the National Assembly, seeking supplementary funds in excess of $23 billion. However, $10 billion of these funds will be injected in Government’s flood response efforts.
Guyana has declared a Level Two Disaster; that is, the national capacity to respond is not overwhelmed, but some external assistance is required.
The $10 billion is for the “provision of flood relief interventions, including repairs to infrastructure and supporting recovery in the productive and household sectors.”
According to Dr Singh, the National Assembly will be reconvening on Monday, June 14, 2021 to consider these two Financial Papers, given their urgency, especially as it relates to flood interventions.
“There has been an immediate response to the crisis. There is floodwater on the land, and we’ve had to deploy additional equipment. We’ve had to deploy additional pumps [to remove the water from the land], and that effort is still ongoing… The physical effort of addressing the flood and removing the water from the land involves, of course, additional costs [for the] relocation of pumps, purchase of fuel, deployment of heavy equipment, etcetera,” he explained.
The Finance Minister went on to say that addressing the immediacy of the flood crisis also entails continuous supply of relief items to affected residents.
“In many communities, people don’t have access to foods, they don’t have access to markets, they don’t have access to cleaning supplies. We’ve had to scramble to mobilise emergency supplies to these communities, and that effort is still on the way. That is a tremendous cost as well,” he posited, adding that relief would also have to be given to farmers and other players in the productive sectors who have been affected by the flood crisis across the country.
Moreover, Dr Singh explained that funds would also be needed to restore and rebuild infrastructure that was destroyed by the flood waters. These include dams, bridges and roads that have been washed away.
Following weeks of persistent and heavy rainfall, all 10 regions in Guyana are experiencing varied levels of flooding. With several communities across Guyana inundated, some families have even been forced to relocate to shelters established by Government due to the high-water levels in their homes.
Meanwhile, the supplementary Financial Paper also contained funds for critical works in other sectors as well, including the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines and other pharmaceuticals, road works, purchase of vehicles and vessels for the security sector, and funds for the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo).
An additional $1.5 billion is being sought for additional resources to support the restructuring of the sugar industry, while two sums totalling over $1.9 billion are to facilitate the purchase of vaccines, vaccine supplies and vaccine rollout activities to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus across Guyana.