Economists have already projected that the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19 will be devastating. Here in Guyana, the government has implemented measures to ease such impacts.
Recently, the Ministry of Business, through the Small Business Bureau, announced the implementation of a plan to offer relief grants to small businesses during this trying period.
The relief support is intended to strengthen and sustain small businesses through provisions such as grants to sustain business operations and retain employees.
Also, the relief grant will help with training and development support to establish and market the business through online platforms, diversify businesses, and forge supply partnerships.
Other government agencies such as the Ministry of Finance and the Guyana Revenue Authority have implemented waivers of VAT and duties on COVID-19 medical supplies and lab testing kits, as well as tax deductions for all donations made by local businesses to staff and health institutions for the treatment of the virus.
The authorities have also implemented the deferral of payments of corporate and individual advance taxes for the 2020 income year, pay as you earn schemes for affected businesses until June 30, 2020, the removal of VAT on water and electricity effective from April 01, 2020, to June 30, 2020; domestic air travel effective from April 08, 2020, to June 30, 2020; and the extension of the April 30th deadline for the filing of tax returns to June 30, 2020.
The authorities have also expedited the processing of VAT refunds for businesses and pay as you earn refunds to employees.
Meanwhile, The Bank of Guyana (BoG) has urged commercial banks to consider reducing interest rates on loans and to allow for the deferral of repayments to cushion the financial effects from COVID-19 on both individuals and businesses.
The financial institutions have since granted a three-month moratorium to classify affected accounts as non-performing and have waived on the regulatory treatment or condition for renegotiating loans under the supervisory guidelines.
Other measures proposed to banks by the BoG include; the deferment of loan payments to assist customers in good standing, companies with liquidity requirements; and waiving or reducing fees and penalties for transactions with ATMs, POS, EFT, debit cards, loan processing, and late payments on loans.
With the cases continuing to rise, the government has announced containment and mitigation measures including imposing staying home order, bans on public gatherings, except for essential services, mandatory social and physical distancing for essential services, curfews, domestic and international travel restrictions.
Closure of schools and borders, mandatory quarantine for those infected or exposed to the disease, providing tests to suspected infection cases, and additional supplies to medical professions, and raising public awareness, are in place.
The government has not announced any plans for reopening, and with an increasing number of positive cases, the curfew has been extended to June 3, 2020.
According to the latest World Health Organization Report (WHO) report, there are: – 4, 425,485 confirmed cases globally with 302,059 deaths
In the Region of the Americas, the number of cases is 1,909,483 with 115,057 deaths.
Guyana, in relation to the transmission of the coronavirus, has not improved.
The positive cases have grown significantly over the last two weeks as community transmission continues.
The number of positive cases has climbed to 117 and the number of COVID-19 deaths remains at 10.
Recovered cases are now 44. In total, 1164 persons have been tested with 1047 being negative.
Five persons are in institutional quarantine and 63 in institutional isolation. In the COVID-19 ICU, there are three persons.