Guyana underscores need for affordable, adequate access to vaccines

at UN Financing COVID-19 Recovery Forum


Ensuring states, especially those most vulnerable, have adequate and affordable access to COVID-19 vaccinations was the message put forward on Monday by Guyana’s Finance Minister, Dr. Ashni Singh during his address at the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Special Segment on Financing for Recovery from COVID-19.

During the virtual event, the Minister outlined that “global partnership and solidarity” are more critical now than ever before as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc on the world.

With the most urgent challenge being to stem the pandemic, Dr. Singh expressed concern that developing countries are encountering hurdles in accessing adequate supplies of vaccines at affordable prices and on fair terms.

“Achieving herd immunity in our population is absolutely critical to our economic recovery.  I emphasize the need to ensure affordable and adequate access to vaccines, particularly for the most vulnerable States,” Dr. Singh said.

Pointing to Guyana, the Minister outlined that COVID-19 is “costing the economy.”

“Our total revenues declined by 5.5 percent while total expenditure increased by 15.2 percent in 2020.  The central government fiscal deficit expanded to 9.4 percent of GDP in 2020 from 2.8 percent in 2019,” he added, noting that Government has since spent heavily on its response to the pandemic.

This was done, he continued, while grappling with a reduction in scarce liquidity, a tightening of fiscal space, sharp increases in debt, and dwindling external financial flows.

Dr. Singh recommended that a global stocktaking exercise be conducted in early 2022 to assess how the pandemic has impacted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the trajectory to 2030.

“Guyana stands in solidarity with all countries facing the multiple challenges occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly the most vulnerable countries, and reiterates the call for global will to be mustered to take concerted action urgently to ensure that these countries receive the necessary support to recover and rebuild.”

But even as much focus is placed on battling the multi-dimensional impacts of the pandemic, Dr. Singh said that the urgent climate crisis should still remain at the forefront.

Further on, he expressed disappointment that the commitment by developed countries to provide “$100 billion in climate finance by 2020” and noted that it must be remedied “urgently.”

What also needs to be explored, Dr. Singh urged, is “innovative financing methods” which would require the strong support of development banks at all levels.

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