Suriname Minister of Finance Gillmore Hoefdraad has presented an economic relief package in support of the Surinamese businesses and families that are financially affected by the COVID-19 crisis. The package includes initiatives such as the expansion of tax credits, the deferral of income tax, adjustments in payment schedules, and other components.
The intended support will be provided through the COVID Emergency Fund, established through a law passed in parliament, in which the government of Suriname pledges SRD 400 million (approximately $53.3 million USD), including a COVID Medical Fund, and the Production Fund of SRD 300 million ($40 million USD).
The COVID Emergency Fund is focused on helping Surinamese families who have been financially struggling after the lockdown and dealing with the slowdown of the economy. The government will increase allowances for child support, old age pension (AOV), people with disabilities, households who were receiving 37 SRD in aid, adding a monthly allowance for pensioners, and 1,500 SRD for job seekers or unemployed persons. The fund will also contribute 50 million SRD to the Residential Construction fund to assist people with home security issues.
“These are unprecedented times for the world and Suriname, and a holistic and transparent approach is needed,” said Hoefdraad, who added, “this crisis can bring fear and uncertainty, but thanks to the lessons we have learned from past experiences, and the smart decisions we have made, Suriname is prepared for the future.”
A commission,composed of the government, the business sector, and trade unions, will manage the initial capital in the Production Fund. Investment, credit, tax and export services will be provided, in particular to companies in the SME segment that are committed to the diversification of the economy through agriculture and tourism. Thus, local production and employment will be boosted and local entrepreneurship promoted.
In terms of the Medical COVID fund, the Ministry of Finance says that the World Bank and the IDB will help Suriname’s health sector with $31.7 million USD directed to patients and medical facilities, and be used to buy medical supplies. At the same time, Minister Hoefdraad has said that the ministry is working on projects with the CDB, the EIB and OIC to benefit of Surinamese families, and other institutions such as the IsDB, ITFC and ICD for supporting the country’s international trade and private sector.
“The Surinamese economy grew during three consecutive years from 2017 to 2019, and while we face a global pandemic, we have proven we can move Suriname forward and we will keep going,” said Hoefdraad, who then added that “since 2017, there has been a constant increase in the per capita GDP.”