Grenada delivers structural adjustment programme: Confirms first case of COVID-19

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Prime Minister and Minister for National Security, Dr Keith Mitchell

By Caribbean News Global contributor

ST GEORGE’S, Grenada — In a national address by Dr Keith Mitchell prime minister of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique, March 20, 2020, outlined a home-grown structural adjustment programme; while on Sunday, confirmed by the minister of health Nickolas Steele its first case of COVID-19, during an emergency meeting.

The imported COVID-19 case is a woman, a Grenadian national who arrived on the island from the UK on a Virgin Atlantic flight on Monday, March 16. “The ministry is engaged in contact tracing to identify people who may have come in contact with the infected woman and maybe showing symptoms of COVID 19,” minister Steel said.

As a government, prime minister Dr Mitchell said on Friday to the inevitable “even while we explore various avenues to ease the anxiety of citizens, and while we anticipate that the private sector will meet payroll obligations at the end of this month, we must push forward with some preliminary concrete measures that are designed, in the interim, to infuse some form of positive financial and mental impact on workers, businesses, and our socially vulnerable,” prime minister Dr Mitchel said.

To that end, for the next three months, April through June 2020 in the first instance, the government of Grenada will take the following actions:

  1. Work tirelessly to avoid staff lay-offs and the loss of livelihood in the tourism sector by providing $20 million worth of payroll support to the hoteliers, restaurants, bars, small travel agents and income support to public buses, taxi drivers, tourists vendors and other such identified hospitality-based businesses.
  2. Adjust the small hoteliers’ facility at Grenada Development Bank to support all hoteliers by injecting an additional $7 million to this facility
  3. Work with the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) to provide unemployment benefits support due to the fallout of this pandemic initially estimated at $10 million.
  4. Suspend the two percent increase in NIS payments for the period.
  5. Encourage the trade union movement to work with the business community to support the use of vacation leave as a first option in the event of the businesses having to resort to a skeleton staff.
  6. Expand the public sector investment programmes in an effort to boost employment at the community level.
  7. Suspend the monthly advance payment on Corporate Income Tax for the period.
  8. Suspend the installment payments on the Annual Stamp Tax for the period.
  9. Expand the small business soft lending facility at the Grenada Development Bank by an additional $5 million.
  10. Place on the price control list certain cleaning items to prevent price gouging at this time. This will include but is not limited to hand sanitizers, bleach, hydrogen peroxide, and hand soap.
  11. Follow all necessary exemption protocols to provide incentives to private labs and medical facilities procuring items to support the fight against COVID-19.
  12. Increase farm labor support to immediately boost agricultural production islandwide. The government is also considering the support for farmers and fish exporters who have recently been affected as a result of international travel restrictions.

Prime minister Dr Mitchell said that “the measures outlined are intended to be preliminary, as we continue to work toward longer-term actions, as this crisis unfolds. We are encouraged by the spirit of cooperation that existed among us, only a handful of years ago when we went through our home-grown structural adjustment programme.”

“Additionally, now that the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes Tribunal has delivered its ruling in the arbitration between the government of Grenada and WRB, the government commits to ensuring that the cost of electricity will be reduced by 30 percent for March, April, and May in the first instance, to all consumers.

“This will not apply to a few companies that have special concessionary arrangements. While it will not be reflected on the bill in the immediate period, future billing cycles will highlight this reduction as the administrative process is finalised. Our financial institutions have also agreed, in principle, to provide a moratorium on principal and interest payments to their clients on the condition, for the three months in question, in the first instance.

“Broad-based consultations and support, as we are seeing now, from all stakeholders, including, the business community, trade union movement, churches, non-governmental organizations and civil society, enabled us to achieve a feat between 2013 and 2016, the likes of which we had not seen in our country. A non-existent 2013 economy grew steadily by an average five percent during and after the Structural Adjustment Programme and was set to maintain that pace again this year, before this pandemic.

“It is that same spirit of cooperation, unity, and resilience that we rely on, now, to see us through the current health crisis, which has a significant economic and social impact.”

The prime minister, on behalf of his administration, acknowledged the sacrifices and support of social partners and citizens over the years.

“It is because of those sacrifices that we have a small cushion now, that, with support from the international community, can see us through several of the lean months ahead; as we brace ourselves and fortify our country to weather this crisis. We continue to work with our friends and partners, such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) the World Bank, the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) and other institutions and friendly governments, to pursue any; and all avenues that will provide us some measure of stability.”

Prime minister Dr Mitchell urged citizens to “continue to do your part, and the government will continue to work tirelessly to do its part—and more—to create an enabling environment in which we can still live, learn, work and play when this is all over,” he said.

Caribbean News Global grenada_confirms Grenada delivers structural adjustment programme: Confirms first case of COVID-19

 

 

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