The Opposition Leader made the calls in a statement delivered last evening, February 22, 2021, as part of an address to the nation.
While the Opposition Leader has previously criticised the Fahie administration's use of grant funding from the Social Security Board (SSB), the new proposal also suggests that money could be taken from the same SSB.
“It is no secret that the tourism sector is under serious strain, with a number of properties either closing or operating at minimal capacity. Just a few weeks ago, we learned that Quito’s made the difficult decision to halt the reopening of its newly completed facility. Top of the Baths has also closed, and there are others who are contemplating the same,” he said.
As such, Hon Penn lamented that the economic challenges coupled with the delays in the re-opening of seaports, mean that many in our community are hurting.
Calling the plan “Stimulus 2.0,” Hon Penn said the support could come from Government’s reserve funds, which can include budget reprioritisation to free monies already allocated.
“If requesting financing from the Social Security Board, a loan with fixed repayment dates and not a “grant” should be negotiated, and this is only after publishing a feasibility status report of the SSB,” he said.
According to the Opposition Leader, the ‘Stimulus 2.0’ will then be distributed based on sound criteria for getting help to those most in need of assistance.
“We must learn from the execution challenges of the first stimulus package and put remedies in place to address those challenges, especially the gross delay in getting the stimulus money into the hands of those who need it most,” he said, while urging the Fahie administration to support the plan.
Premier and Minister of Finance, Hon Andrew A. Fahie (R1) had announced a $62.9M Phase 2 Economic Stimulus Plan on May 28, 2020. The Economic Stimulus Plan in response to COVID-19 had received an injection of a $40M grant from the Social Security Board (SSB), which was criticised by the Opposition Leader.