As Guyana continues to record a consistent increase in the number of COVID-19 cases, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) is urging a swift resolution to the election impasse to adequately address the challenges posed by this public health crises.
In its second Caribbean Quarterly Bulletin for 2020, the Bank stated that: “Settling the elections is important for the government to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.”
The IDB drew attention to the circumstances surrounding the delay in the declaration of the winner of the elections, highlighting that the recount has shown the PPP winning the elections, but that country’s Chief Elections Officer (CEO) has refused to produce a final report which reflects a PPP victory.
As the government continues to struggle to contain the virus, funding for the state’s response has been limited largely because of the protracted electoral process.
Citing the fact that the National Assembly has been dissolved since last year, the IDB noted that the Executive is incapable of passing legislation on economic policy, neither can it access oil revenues accumulating in the Natural Resource Fund.
Those oil revenues amount to roughly US$95M and are being held in the New York Federal Reserves.
Guyana has also attempted to source funding from several international lending agencies, such as the World Bank, under a Rapid Response Emergency Facility, but these attempts have so far failed.
The World Bank has so far provided more than 100 countries with COVID-19 financial aid, with Guyana being excluded from that list, even though the International Monetary Fund (IMF) earlier this year described this country as being one of the least prepared to deal with the pandemic.
As of July 29, Guyana had recorded 398 cases of the virus, with 20 deaths. Guyana has the third most cases of all CARICOM countries, behind Jamaica and Suriname.
“The new daily cases are very volatile in Guyana, mostly remaining below ten per day, but spiking to 15 or more cases on three occasions,” the IDB said in its report, noting that while the number of tests have increased, it still remains low in comparison to Guyana’s regional partners.
As of July 26, 4,563 persons had been tested for COVID-19 in Guyana, one of the lowest testing rates among the most affected countries in the region.
“…testing rates remain relatively low at 4.1 per 1000 people compared to 30.7 in Barbados, 9.5 in Jamaica, 6.4 in The Bahamas, 4.1 in Trinidad and Tobago, and 2.1 in Suriname,” the Bank highlighted.
The IDB also took note of the Government’s policy response which includes but is not limited to: suspension of all school activities for the year; closure of the two international airports; and restrictions on public gatherings and movement.
Enforcement of restrictions on public gathering have been a challenge so far the authorities, as citizens continue to flout curfew and public gathering orders.
News Room had reported on July 26 that the Government had been in violation of its own COVID-19 measures by hosting public meetings across the country.
The COVID-19 Emergency Measures restricts specific social gathering to 10 persons and requires all attendees to wear face masks. But both of these were breached by the APNU+AFC, including the Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan, and the party’s supporters during the hosting of several meetings over the weekend.