A new report from the World Bank said Latin America and the Caribbean is the regions hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The report titled ‘The Cost Of Staying Healthy’ said governments in the region must protect the population while putting economies back on track.
“Governments should protect the most vulnerable while adjusting health and safety standards across all sectors and activities, particularly schooling, so that the probability of contagion remains low while life goes on,” said Martín Rama, World Bank Chief Economist for the Latin America and the Caribbean region. “Ensuring broad and affordable access to health care is fundamental to facing this challenge.”
The report said because of the pandemic, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the Latin America and the Caribbean region (excluding Venezuela) is expected to decline 7.9% in 2020.
A return to growth of four percent is expected in 2021.
Stimulus packages applauded
The report lauded the stimulus packages set up by several governments in the region, saying they were often strong, despite the fiscal constraints faced by the leadership of these countries.
The report urged countries to analyse and adapt successful experiences from other countries that did not suffer disproportionately from COVID-19 in order to bounce back from the effects of the global pandemic.
It said as the COVID-19 pandemic ensues, pharmaceuticals account for a large part of out-of-pocket health expenditures of governments.
In the quest to improve economies, the World Bank report said: “Efficient public procurement of medicines, including COVID-19 vaccines, will be key to a return to normalcy.”
Finally, the report said governments should focus on reorienting taxes and government expenditures in a way that supports job creation, service delivery and infrastructure development to put the region back on a path of inclusive and sustainable growth.
Since the pandemic, the BVI government has rolled out a $62.9 million COVID-19 Economic Stimulus-Response plan to support jobless residents, struggling businesses, taxi operators, and other areas. Government has also suspended all new hirings to the public service except where absolutely necessary.
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