Job creation, business activity will continue to be affected until widespread vaccination achieved – Finance Minister
As long as COVID-19 measures must be maintained to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus and protect people from COVID-19, the creation of jobs and business activity will be hindered.
This is according to the Senior Minister within the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance Dr. Ashni Singh.
During a recent interview with the News Room, Dr. Singh acknowledged that people’s livelihoods have been impacted by the extension of the COVID-19 measures such as social distancing and limiting physical transactions.
These measures, he said, are effective in safeguarding people’s health but fetch a hefty economic cost.
And, cognisant of this, the Senior Minister emphasised that widespread vaccination, resulting in herd immunity, will help all people to exit the pandemic.
“If we don’t achieve herd immunity and this translates into muted economic activity, that in turn with translate into things like business profitability, business job creation and even maintaining current level of activity.
“… every single Guyanese person, who is either employed or looking for a job, has a vested interest in ensuring that we get to a point where we can get to herd immunity because herd immunity is linked to a resumption of normal economic activity,” Dr. Singh explained.
Due to the restrictions imposed on normal operations, because of the pandemic, many organisations were forced to either downsize their operations or rotate their employees.
Over the past few months, there was a slow return to business activity with establishments such as restaurants, bars and other establishments being allowed to operate at 40 per cent capacity. This is less than half of their normal capacity.
And this, the Senior Minister, explained is an indirect economic cost of the pandemic.
Over the past two weeks, a suite of newer guidelines were introduced. According to these measures, unvaccinated persons are now being required to make an appointment to visit and transact business at any government ministry or agency.
Additionally, operators of public transportation, such as minibus operators, taxi drivers, and speedboat operators, will now be required to be fully vaccinated in order to continue to transport passengers.
Dr. Singh said that these measures were also instituted to help keep people safe while also helping to resume some economic activity.
“We have to strike a balance between the many competing realities,” Dr. Singh explained.