US$6M World Bank financing sign of renewed confidence from partners – Ashni Singh
Finance Minister, Dr Ashni Singh has said the approval of additional financing from the World Bank to aid Guyana’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign is a sign that the country has regained the confidence of its development partners.
That confidence, the Minister said, had plunged owing to a number of circumstances, principally the assault on democracy by the former A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government during the five-month saga following the 2020 elections.
“A number of international donor agencies had effectively disengaged with Guyana…Since President Ali’s Government assumed office on the 2nd of August 2020, we have been working on resuming Guyana’s engagement with the various international partners who obviously welcomed the return of Guyana to the fold of democratic nations,” Dr Singh is quoted by the Department of Public Information (DPI) as saying.
Dr Singh said Guyana has engaged all of its development partners with a view to mobilise development resources. He revealed that the Government has been in discussions with the World Bank on how it can support Guyana’s response to the pandemic.
The World Bank announced on Wednesday that it has approved the financing to the tune of US$6 million to the country.
A World Bank release states that the additional financing comes under the Guyana COVID-19 Emergency Response Project to support affordable and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines and ensure effective vaccine deployment in Guyana. The Bank said the funding was also purposed to support general preparedness, resilience, and overall health system strengthening.
It noted that the original project was approved in November 2020 to support Guyana’s pandemic response and strengthen the country’s health system.
According to the Bank, US$5 million is an interest-free loan from the International Development Association (IDA) – a member of the World Bank Group, while an additional US$1 million is a grant from the Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Multi-Donor Trust Fund.
World Bank Resident Representative for Jamaica and Guyana, Ozan Sevimli said “an efficient and equitable rollout of COVID-19 vaccines will be critical to save lives and restore economic activities in Guyana.
The World Bank is closely coordinating with development partners and Government of Guyana counterparts to support the vaccination campaign, and long-term improvements to the country’s health-care system.”
Guyana has been working assiduously to vaccinate its adult population. The Health Ministry said on Wednesday that 233,134 persons have received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, with 108,752 being fully vaccinated. The Health Ministry reiterated that the COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective, and urged persons to get vaccinated.
Dr Singh told the DPI that the recent flooding disaster has complicated the Government’s vaccination campaign, but that it hoped for a reinvigoration of that campaign, as floodwaters were receding in some of the more devastated regions.
The Minister also noted “unfortunate” statements from Opposition politicians which have resulted in vaccine hesitancy. Notably, the World Bank stressed the need for vaccine awareness communication in Guyana, as it announced the US$6 million financing.