President Ali discusses reopening of economy, combating COVID-19 with Private Sector

Members of the Private Sector left a meeting with President Dr Irfaan Ali and senior members of his Government feeling optimistic, after thorough discussions about reopening the economy and the fight against COVID-19.

President Irfaan Ali (second left) during Monday’s meeting with the Private Sector. He is flanked by (from left) PSC Chairman Captain (ret’d) Gerry Gouveia, Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo, Prime Minister Brigadier (ret’d) Mark Phillips and Attorney General Anil Nandlall

The meetings were held at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre and were attended by representatives of the Private Sector Commission (PSC) and the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) among other members of civil society.
In an interview with this publication, PSC Executive Ramesh Dookhoo explained that during the meeting, they shared ideas with the new Government on combating COVID-19. He explained that they also advocated for better coordination between the various Government agencies.
According to Dookhoo, there should be a broad multi-stakeholder effort against COVID with a new task force that will include civil society in decision making… not the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) formulated task force.
“We shared with the President, Vice President, Prime Minister and Frank Anthony, what we have been doing in the Private Sector and that we have been collaborating with all the Government agencies to finance the COVID effort. The provision of food, ideas, PPE (Personal Protection Equipment).”

President Ali (right) and prominent business magnate Yesu Persaud (left) share a light moment on Monday

“We also recognised that efforts by Government agencies lacked coordination. In general terms, there’s a lot of protection of turf, regarding the efforts. I think what needs to be done is for there to be a broad multi-stakeholder effort with a new task force.”
Dookhoo expressed optimism that their concerns would be addressed by the new Government. Meanwhile, also attending the meeting was Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Nicholas Boyer.
In an interview, Boyer lauded the more consultative approach of the new President. He also revealed that coming out of the meeting, they were tasked with compiling info to combat the social and economic effects of COVID in Guyana.
“It’s nice to see the President, even on his first day on the job, is worried about the pandemic affecting Guyana and obviously has reached out to the various agencies as well as the business community to see how we can collaborate to bring a more effective response to the virus as well as reopen certain parts of the economy.”
“So, we were left with some homework out of the meeting, to start getting focus groups and information out of the various sectors. There was a more consultative approach than before… it was heartening that one of the first things they did was to get information on what was going on in relation to coronavirus.”
President Ali was sworn in on Sunday and has since held a number of meetings with agency heads, the Disciplined Services and persons involved in the COVID-19 response. Such meetings are especially important, since as of Tuesday Guyana had 497 cases of COVID-19.
On Monday, President Ali along with Prime Minister Mark Phillips, Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo and PPP/C Executive member Dr Frank Anthony met with health officials from both the public and private health institutions at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre.
Meanwhile, one of the suggestions that came from Chief Medical Officer, Dr Shamdeo Persaud, was for a halt to the illegal movement through Guyana’s borders, as it is evidently linked to the large increases in positive COVID-19 cases recorded in recent time.
Meanwhile, President Ali committed to continuing his consultations and had also said that a meeting will be held with other political parties before a national plan to combat COVID-19 is announced. (G3)