COVID-19: President Ali announces sweeping measures to offer relief to citizens, businesses

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Just over two weeks after taking office, President Irfaan Ali on Wednesday announced a slew of measures intended to offer relief to ordinary citizens and businesses amid the ongoing debilitating consequences of COVID – 19.

The President, during an address to the nation from the State House, said the Government was mobilizing US$60 million from several financial institutions including the World Bank and the Islamic Bank.

In addition, President Ali said there is also US$2 million grant to be received from the Government of India and other bilateral support to help the Government in its fight against the effects of the new Coronavirus.

He said the new measures are part of the Government’s national holistic plan that integrates all aspects of the COVID-19 response.

“My Government has noted the closure of small business enterprises, the decline in the economy by more than 4 per cent, contraction by more than 20%, loss of jobs, reduced workforce, reduced operations and output and most important the loss of income which has led to starvation in many communities… the Government is not unaware of the difficulties you’re facing,” President Ali said.

The President said he intends to find the balance in addressing the issue which is not only a public health crisis but also one that is economic and social.

The President said over the next week the Government will be moving to have improved testing, delivery of stimulus incentives to citizens, arrangements to ensure business stability, personalized help at the household level and the delivery of education in a nonconventional way.

Dr Ali said he took note of the serious financial threat and has asked the Bank of Guyana (BoG) to implement several measures in this regard.

The BoG will extend the moratorium to December 2020 which will see the deferring of payments by commercial banks until that time.

He has also asked the Bank of Guyana to relax section 14 and 15 of the supervision guidelines to December 2020 and waiver section 13 of supervision guideline.

Meanwhile, all commercial banks have agreed to waive their charges to encourage more out of bank transactions and waive charges for senior citizens.

The President announced special improvements for the health and education sectors and said the Government will continue to look to citizens for their support as it seeks to put an all-encompassing plan in place.

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