The Private Sector Commission (PSC) is concerned about the manner in which the National COVID-19 Task Force (NCTF) is addressing the COVID-19 pandemic. In a statement today, the Commission said that the NCTF is not functioning in several key areas as would be expected, and is calling for a restructuring of the body.
“The PSC wishes to emphasize our disappointment in the manner in which the government has approached the management of the COVID-19 crisis which daily threatens the lives and economic welfare of all citizens and businesses of Guyana. The PSC wishes to reiterate, as we stated since March 31, 2020, that the NCTF must be restructured to reflect a truly national task force, inclusive of all major stakeholders, social, business, religious and political, from a wide cross section of the country. The Task Force must include and embrace health professionals, private sector business support organizations, sectorial bodies, NGOs (Non-Governmental Organisations), and an economic committee to address the impacts on the economy and to implement a recovery plan,” it said.
The Commission said that from the beginning, it has supported the mandatory use of masks, the practice of effective social distancing, and the need for sufficient COVID-19 tests to be conducted. Further, the PSC said that it has already submitted several comprehensive recommendations for economic measures to relieve the financial impact on the country and, in particular, economic measures to cushion the impact on small businesses and vulnerable individual citizens. These measures include tax relief, emergency funding, deferment of payment for public utility services, and rescheduling of loans and mortgages.
The PSC observed that in the current political environment, coupled with the COVID-19 health crisis, the economy is now fighting to stay afloat. Businesses are shutting down; employees have been laid off in some cases, and citizens are without much needed economic relief. Guyana is likely to experience its worst economic recession over the last two or three decades. Tremendous uncertainty lies ahead for the remainder of 2020, the body noted.
The bloc said that there is a dire need for additional extensive testing to be conducted, much better management of public information, adequate provision of Personal Protective Equipment and sufficient contact tracing to be implemented and followed up. It posited that there must be national coordination in the management of this health crisis.