How do you protect a fragile economy in the face of the threat of Coronavirus?
We have seen the world's major economies lowering interest rates and seeking to implement other economic risk mitigation strategies to keep their economies afloat as the impact from Coronavirus threatens to decimate the financial markets and key sectors of the real economy. The travel and tourism industry is already feeling a major squeeze as Coronavirus threatens to run riot and re-arrange life as it once was.
For developing nations the World Bank Group recently announced they are making available "an initial package of up to $12 billion in immediate support to assist countries coping with the health and economic impacts of the global outbreak. This financing is designed to help member countries take effective action to respond to and, where possible, lessen the tragic impacts posed by the COVID-19 (coronavirus)."
According to their release; "the World Bank Group will help developing countries strengthen health systems, including better access to health services to safeguard people from the epidemic, strengthen disease surveillance, bolster public health interventions, and work with the private sector to reduce the impact on economies. The financial package, with financing drawn from across IDA, IBRD and IFC, will be globally coordinated to support country-based responses."
The World Bank Group further states; “We are working to provide a fast, flexible response based on developing country needs in dealing with the spread of COVID-19,” said World Bank Group President David Malpass. “This includes emergency financing, policy advice, and technical assistance, building on the World Bank Group's existing instruments and expertise to help countries respond to the crisis."
The financial package from the WBG will provide grants and low-interest loans for low income countries and loans also too for middle income countries.
My question today to the Hon Premier of Montserrat, Easton Taylor-Farrell, and to the Hon Minister of Health Charles Kirnon - have you or Representatives of your government looked to make any funding contingency requests from DFID or other key funding partners for a fund ready on standby with quick disbursement procedures just incase the dreaded Coronavirus reaches Montserrat's shores?
Montserrat has no economic footing already as it is. Any outbreak of Coronavirus will cripple the island even more. We have heard you on the areas you see to make ready for the health concerns, but what about the economic impact? Are you ready? Do you have plans in place?
If you do, then the people should be informed without delay of how you plan to keep the economy growing if Coronavirus does strike a more deadly blow in the region and across the world.
J A. Robinson