PSC against lockdown without fiscal support; urges speedy end to electoral process
The number of positive COVID-19 cases in Guyana on Thursday jumped to 150 amidst calls for a complete lockdown to tackle the spread of the disease.
But the Private Sector Commission (PSC) is against this given that a fully functioning Government is not in place to provide adequate support to the private sector and the less fortunate persons during this period.
“Having a full lockdown without any Government support, at least for those who depend on the social safety net and those who have been losing jobs and so forth, could result in a lot more danger as the cure might be more costly,” said Ramesh Persaud, who heads the Economic Sub-Committee on the PSC, during a virtual press conference on Thursday.
The passage of the No-Confidence Motion in December 2018 rendered the APNU+AFC Government in caretaker mode hence a budget could not be prepared for 2020.
Compounding the situation is the fact that Guyanese are still awaiting the results of the elections two months after voting.
Persaud pointed out that with the ongoing electoral process, the incumbent Government which he said is operating in “a handicapped manner,” is not in a position to provide a stimulus package.
“The kind of measures would have been available in a toolkit to manage the economic crisis at this time, Guyana is quite limited to employ some of those currently,” Persaud said.
A curfew from 6pm to 6am which killed the entertainment industry and accompanying measures which stopped non-essential businesses from operating was implemented since April 3 and extended to June 3.
Persaud noted that after almost three months of not being able to fully operate, businesses are running low on cash.
“…businesses would have been trying their best to maintain employees and pay and so forth, at least some businesses are but it is now coming to a big strain after three months,” said Persaud who is Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Institute of Private Enterprise Development (IPED.
Some businesses he said will be unable to continue paying staff in June while 50-60 per cent of local businesses are suffering.
He alluded to the provision of hampers to the less fortunate but noted that those will only have short term impacts.
Given the lack of a fully functioning Government in place, Persaud is urging citizens to stay at home unless it is necessary for them to come out, in order to deter the National COVID-19 Task Force (NCTF) from moving toward a full lockdown.
Meanwhile, Persaud called for a speedy completion of the ongoing electoral process.
“We need this political process to be completed with a lot more urgency,” the businessman urged.
“We are in a transition process, we have an incomplete election and much of what we will refer to as fiscal stimuluses require a Government to be in place to do that, a Government with full authority to do that and it’s unfortunate that our elections have been left incomplete at this stage which is really really stymying the process.”
The PSC previously presented a list of measures to the NCTF which can be implemented to help citizens get past the current economic difficulties which come with COVID-19 restrictions.