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COUNTING THE COST OF COVID TO GOVERNMENT

Local News 29 Jul, 2020 Follow News

COUNTING THE COST OF COVID TO GOVERNMENT

Auditor General Sue Winspear

The Cayman Islands government is expected to end up spending around CI$46.7 million on the range of measures it has put in place to suppress the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in the jurisdiction.

That’s the conclusion of a report issued Monday from the Office of the Auditor General (OAG).

“We estimate that the total cost of COVID-related activities will be at least $46.7 million,” the report says.

It highlights that up to 19 June the Government had spent $21.5 million on COVID-related activities.

Titled “Overview of the Government’s costs in relation to COVID-19”, the report provides a factual summary of the Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and a position statement of costs incurred to 19 June 2020 and the estimated costs of commitments made at the same date, according to the OAG.

Auditor General Sue Winspear says, “By 19 June, when the Government announced that the country was moving to suppression leave 2, over $21.5 million had been spent on COVID-related activities.”

“Not surprisingly, the largest area of spending at that time was on healthcare. Over $12.5 million had been spent on test kits, PPE and other medical supplies and equipment and the cost of carrying out tests.”

The report states that Government commitments made as at 19 June could cost more than $25 million.

Ms. Winspear says “The Government has made a number of commitments in relation to COVID-19, particularly in relation to providing assistance to individuals suffering financial hardship and supporting businesses to help bolster the economy. These commitments could cost a further $25 million at least.”

The report summarises spending across seven categories of activity, including healthcare, quarantine and social distancing, social assistance to individuals, support for business, education, public sector personnel and other costs. The report states that $14.2 million is expected to be spent on healthcare and $15.7 million spent on supporting business.

“I along with the rest of the citizens of the Cayman Islands welcome the actions taken by the Government to suppress the spread of the disease. There is no doubt that the Government have succeeded in their number one priority of preserving life during the pandemic,” the Auditor General said.

“However,” she noted, “these actions also have a financial cost.”

The government had also incurred considerable revenue losses from some of the actions taken to respond to COVID-19, especially closing the borders, where it will have foregone huge income streams from import duties and tourist taxes.

The OAG said it will address that and related areas in a further report expected later this year.


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