Speech by Ibrahima Kassory FOFANA, Prime Minister, Head of Government: Economic response plan to the COVID-19 health crisis

My dear compatriots,

It is with seriousness that I address you today, on behalf of the Head of State and the Government of the Republic.

Indeed, our country, Guinea, like other nations, is experiencing a dramatic health crisis, linked to the coronavirus or COVID-19, which is spreading with dizzying speed, mourning families, disrupting lifestyles and slows down economic activity.

According to data from the World Health Organization, to date, 202 countries and territories have been affected, with more than one million cases of contamination worldwide, with over 60,000 deaths.

In Guinea, the services of the ministry in charge of health and the National Health Security Agency (ANSS) count more than 120 confirmed cases, including five people cured, and more than 3,000 people having been in contact with the confirmed cases.

My dear compatriots,

The projections available are not reassuring either. The already worrying progression of the virus could be even more meteoric.

Available data predict that 20 to 60% of the world’s population could be infected and the resulting loss of human life could number in the millions of victims.

The projections for Africa, our continent, whose public health systems are deficient and where the containment solution is complex to implement, are even more alarming.

On March 23, in his solemn address to the Nation, the President of the Republic established a state of emergency in our country, to more effectively strengthen the fight against the spread of COVID-19 in Guinea.

Strict measures have been enacted, the defense and security forces have been mobilized and the administrations called upon to reorganize and adapt to the emergency situation. 

The Government is fully aware of the constraints that the current situation places on rights and freedoms, just as it measures the social impact of the health crisis for our populations, in particular the most deprived, as well as for the national economy, with constraints on the private sector.

”  Concerned”  by this situation, the President of the Republic instructed me, in his address to the Nation, I quote, “to  propose an economic response plan likely to support our economy and help the private sector to absorb the induced shocks. by the foreseeable slowdown in economic activity.  »End of quote.

On the basis of the guidelines it gave, the response plan presented on behalf of the Government was thus amended and adopted.

The purpose of my present communication is therefore to present the main lines of the said response plan to you.

 Dear compatriots,

As you can see, the global economic outlook is uncertain and the Guinean economy will not be spared. It will be just as impacted by the current health crisis.

The IMF forecast a growth rate of the Guinean economy of 6% in 2020 (against 5.6% in 2019). It is highly likely that the consequences of COVID-19 will translate into a decline that could reach around 1% of GDP in 2020.

In addition to the fall in the annual growth rate, the level of inflation is also expected to deviate from the forecast path, while the budget deficit is expected to worsen, from 3.4 to 6% of GDP, against the ‘inevitable increase in financing needs to provide an economic response to the pandemic.

In addition to the general slowdown of the productive system and the consequent loss of tax revenues, induced by the world economic situation, it is necessary to note the particular position of our country because of its dependence on imports and vis-à-vis the mining sector.

In addition, international restrictions on the movement of people place our tourism, hotel and restaurant sectors in an unprecedented situation of fragility.

It is clear that the current health crisis will have serious consequences on economic activity and on the standard of living of the populations.

My dear compatriots,

 There are moments in the life and history of Nations that challenge governments to face their responsibility to reduce uncertainties and produce the universal.

This is the meaning of the directives of the President of the Republic, who instructed the Government that I have the honor to lead to take all the necessary measures to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. .

I must admit that we have taken a step back, on the basis of the experience acquired a few years ago in the management of the Ebola virus epidemic, in order to provide a coordinated and appropriate response to the current situation.

In this regard, a certain caution was called for. The government did not just want to make fancy announcements. We had to establish, very clearly, the outlines of the response plan and the means to finance it, taking into account the need to maintain macroeconomic stability, and thus preserve the gains dearly won by the governance of Professor Alpha CONDÉ over the decade. elapsed.

After consultations with the private sector, which sent me back its observations and proposals, and in close consultation with the ministerial economic departments concerned and the Central Bank of the Republic of Guinea, the Guinean Government has adopted a rigorous economic response plan to the current health crisis.

The overall cost of this economic response plan is over  3,000 billion Guinean francs .

Our response plan is backed by thirty (30) specific measures. It revolves around three axes:

– a health component, intended to contain and curb the epidemic;

– a social component, which aims to mitigate the consequences of the health crisis for households, especially those in precarious situations;

– and a support component for the private sector, to mitigate the effects of the epidemic on businesses, in particular the most affected sectors.

I am firmly convinced that the thirty (30) measures adopted will allow us to better protect society, take care of our patients, help the most disadvantaged and prevent the collapse of our economic system.

The health component of the plan concerns improving prevention as well as the conditions in which people affected by the virus are cared for in a decent manner.

As such, for a total cost of  1,125 billion francs , the health component of the economic response plan has the following objectives:

–         strengthening of the monitoring and support system, both in Conakry and the thirty-four (34) border posts identified and deemed to be the most sensitive;

 –         strengthening of infrastructure and the national health system.

The social component of the plan, for its part, aims to provide appropriate assistance to the populations, in particular the most deprived. It includes the ANIES plan and additional social measures. To this end:

–         the National Agency for Economic and Social Inclusion (ANIES), spearhead of the Government’s social policy, will start executing, from this week, an emergency plan of 439 billion Guinean francs, already available, to conduct an awareness campaign and the distribution of protection kits, the realization of labor-intensive works (HIMO) intended to improve the living environment in Conakry, and the realization of cash transfers for 240,000 vulnerable households targeted (i.e. 1.6 million Guineans);

–         under additional social measures, the State will cover the bills of subscribers to the social electricity tariff for three months from this month of April,  at a cost of 456 billion Guinean francs;

 –         the State will also cover the bills of subscribers to the social water tariff for three months from this month of April, at a cost of 24 billion Guinean francs; 

 

–         the payment dates for water and electricity bills for all other non-commercial subscribers will be postponed by three months;

 –         the prices of health products (ie pharmaceutical products and health equipment) and essential foodstuffs are frozen during the period of the pandemic;

 –         rents on public and private buildings are blocked from April to December 2020;

 –         public transport by bus is made free for three months from this month of April, which represents a State effort of 6 billion Guinean francs;

 –         public transport by rail (Conakry Express) is also made free for three months from April 2020, ie a cost for the State of 2 billion Guinean francs;

I have instructed all sectoral ministers to take the necessary steps for the application of these measures.

The support component for the private sector will consist of significant support for the private sector, in particular the most affected sectors such as tourism, hotels and crafts. So it is decided:

–         the postponement (for three months) of all tax and social charges for companies in the tourism and hotel sector;

 –         an effort to pay without delay the arrears owed by the State to the tourism and hotel sectors;

 –         a postponement for three months of the payment of water and electricity bills for tourism and hotel businesses;

 –         the State waives VAT for three months on the water and electricity bills of companies in the tourism and hotel sector;

 –         the repayment deadlines for bank loans to the tourism sector will be postponed by three months at no financial cost for businesses;

–         health equipment and similar products entering into the fight against COVID-19 are exempt from all duties and taxes for the duration of the health crisis;

 –         the payment of taxes and similar payments is postponed for three months for all small and medium-sized enterprises;

 –         the deadlines for reimbursing VAT credits to businesses are reduced to two weeks, and the minister responsible for the budget will take all necessary steps to this effect;

 –         invoicing of demurrage at the port and at the airport is suspended for three months;

 –         the domestic debt of the State, which penalizes our SMEs today, will be the subject of a progressive and significant effort to settle;

 –         arrears relating to public contracts pre-financed by companies through bank loans will also be the subject of a significant settlement effort;

 –         the penalties for delay in the execution of public contracts and orders of the State and its dismemberments are canceled;

 –         a guarantee fund for bank loans to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will be created, with an initial allocation of 50 billion Guinean francs;

–         a specific fund for economic interest groups will be set up, for an amount of 20 billion Guinean francs, to help them better absorb the economic shock of the health crisis and support them in their formalization;

–         the requirements weighing on commercial banks in respect of their minimum reserves with the central bank will be relaxed, to guarantee the financing of the economy;

 –         for the same reason, the conditions for refinancing commercial banks with the central bank will be lightened, with a reduction in the key rate of the issuing body;

 –         digital payment methods (or electronic money) will be facilitated and expanded.

  

Ladies and gentlemen,

 Dear compatriots,

To ensure the financing of the measures I have just announced, a Special Fund for the response and stabilization of the economy, called  the COVID-19 Response Fund,  will be created this week.

This fund, which will amount to a minimum of  2,500 billion Guinean francs,  will be supplied by the State through various sources of financing already identified and through voluntary contributions from individuals and businesses.

To this end, the Government is launching a public appeal for national solidarity, so that, together, the State, individuals and businesses, we pool our efforts to combat the current health crisis more effectively.

I would also like to inform you that discussions are underway with our technical and financial partners, bi and multilateral, to guarantee their essential support in the fight against the pandemic linked to COVID-19. I would like to express to them here the gratitude of the whole Nation for their constant support.

Dear compatriots,

The health crisis we are going through is unprecedented. This is the second epidemic we have seen in Guinea, in less than ten years, after the one linked to the Ebola virus. The resilience of the brave Guinean populations is, once again, put to the test.

In the fight against the Ebola viral disease, every Guinean, every Guinean, at their level, has given their own. Like one man, the entire Guinean Nation stood up to fight for its survival and our Nation remained standing.

 It is from this strength that we must once again draw the necessary resources today to overcome the present crisis.

Whenever the future of Guinea has been at stake, we Guineans have found the necessary strength to reinvent ourselves.

Beyond political differences, social, ethnic, religious considerations or the specificities of our mores and customs, it is up to us to adopt responsible attitudes in the face of danger.

Brave Guinean populations,

 I would like to reiterate the invitation of the President of the Republic to observe the preventive measures decreed by the health authorities, in particular the barrier gestures and the associated hygienic reflexes.

You will understand at its true value, the decision taken by His Excellency the President of the Republic, Professor Alpha CONDE, to declare a state of emergency in Guinea, to better wage this health war, in the face of an invisible, vicious and dangerous, the devastating effects of which are visible and felt in many ways.

I want to appeal to all the moral, political and social forces of our country, for the individual and collective effort required by the state of emergency. Already, he is happy to note the momentum of solidarity and mobilization observed in the political discourse in the face of the ordeal of the health crisis.

The moment requires a synergy of coordinated and determined actions of all the vital forces of the Nation. We owe this to the most vulnerable in society, especially women, because of the very role they play in family and societal balance.

It is true, democracy is not simply the faculty of expressing one’s opinion freely or of bringing up the contradiction. Democracy is also, and perhaps above all, the will and the capacity to come together, to guarantee a community of destiny, when society faces an exceptional situation and the danger threatens the very existence of Nation.   

Dear compatriots,

I want to reassure you that the Government is and will remain mobilized to implement all the provisions that I have just outlined.

On behalf of the President of the Republic, the Government, through me, makes a solemn commitment to you to lead this fight with all the required determination.

In conclusion, I would like to congratulate, thank and encourage the health professionals, in particular the nursing staff who, despite the limited resources at their disposal, provide effective care for the sick, sometimes at the risk of their life. The whole Nation owes them infinite gratitude.

To fight COVID-19, provide assistance to the most disadvantaged and support our businesses,  you can count on us!

 

Thank you.

Transmitted by the Government Communication Unit 

Translate »