Granger appeals for greater funding for small States amidst COVID-19 pandemic 

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By Ravin Singh 

The crippling effects of the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) on small States can only be cushioned by resource mobilization which requires increased funding.

It is against this backdrop that President David Granger on Thursday appealed to the United Nations (UN) for more to be done to support small States in their response to the global pandemic.

“We commend and thank the Governments and institutions which have supported the flow of needed resources to small states like ours so far. We recognize that more must be done,” the President said.

The High-Level meeting which focused on Financing for Development in the era of COVID-19 and beyond, was convened by UN Secretary-General António Guterres and Prime Ministers Andrew Holness of Jamaica, and Justin Trudeau of Canada.

In his virtually-delivered message, the Head-of-State highlighted that small States require structured and sturdy systems to save lives and support livelihoods.

Using Guyana as a case of reference, he pointed to the fact that the State’s ability to protect its citizens from diseases and to support its economy has been impacted by the need to divert revenue to support migrants.

“Guyana borders countries with high incidence of COVID-19. Migrants seek refuge, enter our territory in the area which necessitates the delivery of effective health services over long distances and to remote settlements,” he explained.

The President added that: “Guyana is a small developing state whose many challenges have been compounded by its need to combat COVID-19.”

Last month Guyana received GY$100M from the US government to support its fight against COVID-19, and on Thursday the City Council of the capital Georgetown received an additional GY$8M from the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) to aid its efforts in stopping the spread of the disease.

Guyana shares its borders with Brazil – the new epicenter of the COVID-19 – and Venezuela – a country in a severe economic and political crisis. As a result of those circumstances, Guyana has been forced to respond to the challenges of migrants entering through its porous borders.

Against this backdrop, the President noted that such “expanded economic response” will overwhelm small economies in the absence of concessional resource availability.

And given the multidimensional nature of the impact of COVID-19, he suggested that extraordinary financing must be directed to support small States.

Three ways he proposed that this must be done, are: to respond immediately to the life-changing exigencies of the pandemic; to develop holistic long term recovery plans and exit strategies; and to build capacity to establish permanent public health structures to prepare for future international diseases such as those seen over the last decade.

In the medium and long term, the Head-of-State offered that small states need to build capacity to respond effectively and efficiently when faced with health crises which are predicted to occur more frequently in the future.

In the long term, he noted that these states must achieve food security by sustaining agriculture, and manufacturing services so when those economies reopen, its public and private sectors will be capable of rapid production.

“In the short term, however, we are obliged to respond to the urgent, unavoidable, and unanticipated effects of COVID-19,” he said.

The high-level meeting also featured leaders from international institutions who discussed the challenges and opportunities to act swiftly on six issues:

  1. The need to expand liquidity in the global economy and maintain financial stability to safeguard development gains;
  2. The need to address debt vulnerabilities for all developing countries to save lives and livelihoods for billions of people around the world;
  3. The need to create a space in which private sector creditors can proactively engage in effective and timely solutions;
  4. Prerequisites for enhancing external finance for inclusive growth and creating jobs, including lowering the transactions costs of remittances;
  5. Measures to expand fiscal space and foster domestic resource mobilization by preventing illicit financial flows and;
  6. Ensuring a sustainable and inclusive recovery by aligning recovery policies with the Sustainable Development Goals.

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