President Ali engages IsDB on COVID-19 financing, other key sectors
President Dr Irfaan Ali on Sunday facilitated discussions with the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), placing special emphasis on financing for containing the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), as well as partnerships in other sectors.
IsDB President, Dr Bandar Hajjar and President Ali had discussion on solar energy, agriculture, infrastructure, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and the health sector.
The new People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government has been mobilising resources – financial and otherwise – to tackle the coronavirus pandemic in Guyana and recover from the impact it has had on the local economy.
The previous Administration secured a whopping US$20 million loan from the IsDB for the Guyana Power and Light (GPL) Utility Upgrade Programme to affect a comprehensive turnaround of its electricity distribution.
This loan was the first sum to be disbursed from the resource envelope of US$900 million that was extended to Guyana by the IsDB in 2017.
Guyana has already benefitted from two grants from the Bank totalling more than US$500,000.
The Utility Upgrade Programme is part of GPL’s Development and Expansion for the period 2014 to 2021 which aims to reduce the overall losses in the power system. The loan was to facilitate the rehabilitation of 153 km of GPL’s medium-voltage and low-voltage network and 6941 smart metres, including the associated transformers, service lines and distribution boxes.
The rehabilitation and extension of two 69 13.8KV substations at Kingston and Vreed-en-Hoop including equipment switchgear, power transformers, rerouting of circuits distribution feeders and cable connections.
However, on Tuesday last, President Ali stated, “I’ve also been actively involved in mobilising resources from international agencies and also from bilateral partners [to tackle COVID-19]. It has been going well so far. I’m hoping by Monday, we will be in a better position to say how much resources we’ve mobilised, and what has been mobilised from a medical perspective and from a socioeconomic perspective.”
In fact, the President disclosed that he had already engaged some of Guyana’s major donor bilateral partners including the Governments of India, the United States and Canada to secure more resources.
He added that he has also reached out to the Caribbean Community (Caricom), Organisation of Islamic Conference and the International Money Fund (IMF), which would follow suit with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). It was further noted that letters were also sent off to several of the Gulf States for resources in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the Head of State, Guyana needs all of the assistance it can get to tackle the life-threatening disease that has killed 22 persons and infected over 640 persons.
“Those are some of the things we’re targeting, whether it comes in the form of equipment or budget support or financial resources – we need it at the moment,” he asserted.
In just one week since taking office, the new PPP/C Administration had mobilised and received 46,000 rapid antibody test kits, Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), approximately 240,000 surgical masks and face shields, gowns; and other urgently needed supplies. Additionally, the Government of Barbados had donated an additional 15,000 PCR test kits.
In fact, the Health Ministry recently received a number of stethoscopes, oxygen concentrators and drugs, oxygen masks, face masks (N95, KN95 and 264,000 surgical masks), 30,000 face shields, 55,000 respirators and 5200 gowns from the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO). PAHO/WHO Country Representative, Dr William Adu Krow disclosed that another donation, this time of much-needed ventilators and additional testing kits, from PAHO is expected in the coming days.
Meanwhile, at his inauguration ceremony, the Head of State announced that his Government is in the process of securing an initial $4.5 billion for COVID-19 emergency response at the household level in Guyana.
“Everything possible must be done to protect our people from this dreaded and dreadful disease. That is why, as President, I will personally and urgently participate in my Government’s programme to stop infection by the coronavirus, curb its spread, and safeguard the health of our nation,” he had said.
As such, the Head of State told reporters on Tuesday that his Government is currently in the process of preparing an emergency budget to take the country towards the end of the year particularly as it relates to tackling the COVID-19 disease.