A 56-hour curfew was in effect this weekend “due to the uncontrolled spread of Covid-19 in 29 communities on the Navajo Nation,” Jonathan Nez, the Navajo president, said in a statement released on Sunday.That spread is “largely due to travel off the Navajo Nation and family gatherings,” the statement said. – Advertisement – The Navajo Nation, under a weekend lockdown, is averaging more than 100 new daily cases for the first time since early June.The nation, which stretches across much of northeastern Arizona and into parts of Utah and New Mexico, reported 124 new coronavirus cases and two new deaths on Saturday.- Advertisement – – Advertisement – In Apache County, whose population is about three-quarters Native American, turnout increased by 27 percent since the 2016 election, with over 98 percent of votes reported on Sunday evening. The nation has recorded 12,571 total cases and 593 deaths from the virus, according to the Navajo Department of Health. In addition to the strict weekend lockdown, a weekday curfew is in effect from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.- Advertisement – “The numbers are not looking good for us here on the Navajo Nation and across the country,” Mr. Nez said in the statement.The curfews come after extensive restrictions this summer, when roads were closed to outside visitors, and restaurants — including even some fast food drive-throughs — were shut down.Despite the spike — cases began increasing at the end of September — voter turnout increased significantly this year compared with 2016 in the Arizona counties that overlap the Navajo and Hopi tribal lands.
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…makes calls to re-prioritise to include critical economic-driven projectsIn citing a recent International Monetary Fund (IMF) Report that has highlighted the need for Government to cut back on its wasteful spending, former People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Minister Irfaan Ali said the recommendations should be taken seriously.He was referring to the recently concluded 2018 staff report by the IMF on Guyana’s economy, where the international financial institution made two main policy recommendations, and where it underscored the importance of macroeconomic and financial stability.On the notion of preserving macroeconomic stability, a policy that prepares an economy for growth by safeguarding it against external shocks, the IMF hadOpposition MP and former Minister, Irfaan Alicautioned the Government of continued expansionary fiscal policy. This involves increased Government spending.According to the report, the IMF is extremely concerned how short-term fiscal deficit is being financed: primarily, by usurping domestic credit. Allocation of scarce resources to best meet the needs of the people through wealth generation and improved wellbeing is crucial.Ali told Guyana Times that from 2014 to 2018, the trajectory, however, has been one that represents reckless spending. Moreover, Government increased its dependence and reliance on domestic credit to fund short-term fiscal deficit. Statistics indicate that from 2014 to 2017, domestic borrowing increased by more than twofold, from $11.3 billion to $23 billion.In 2018, it is further estimated to increase by another $11 billion to $34 billion. Hence, this huge increase, indeed, would crowd out private investment. The crowding out effect is the increase in interest rates because of higher levels of Government borrowing. This, however, means the increase in Government borrowing leads to greater demand for loanable funds, increasing interest rates. When this happens, it’s more expensive for private companies to borrow and invest.Meanwhile, according to the latest Bank of Guyana (BoG) Statistical Abstract, for the month of June, loans and advances from commercial banks to individual customers contracted by more than 6.5 per cent or $2.4 billion, during the first six months of 2018. Central Government, on the other hand, recorded a huge increase in borrowing by more than 1600 per cent or $61.3 billion.Ali, who is the economic spokesman for the Opposition said it is interesting to note, that projected fiscal expenditure in 2018, when compared to 2015, is expected to increase by more than $75 billion or 39 percent, in tandem with anFinance Minister Winston Jordanincrease in fiscal deficit by more than $33.7 billion or 375 percent.“From 2017-2018, fiscal expenditure is anticipated to increase by $18 billion or 7.2 per cent, attracting a budget deficit of $9 billion. Of the two major components to fiscal expenditure, capital and recurrent, the latter, when compared to 2014, is projected to increase by $46 billion by the end 2018, in comparison to an increase of $8 billion by its counterpart, capital expenditure.”He said another important point to note is the increase in recurrent expenditure, which, among others, represents expenditure on goods and services; wages, salaries, and other charges such as travelling, dietary etc. This makes up 84 per cent of total increase in fiscal expenditure, an indication that clearly speaks to what was described as the “gross misappropriation of funds.”Ali said not only significant amount of resources being squandered on goods and services that yields no wealth generation or improve standard of living for the people, but expenditure on capital items (goods that make products, provide services) has grown by a mere 15 percent.“And if one is to adjust for inflation and VAT (Value Added Tax), this amount would become significantly less. In other words, of every dollar spent by this Administration, less than $0.10 is spent on wealth generation activities for the people,” he pointed out.Re-prioritiseThe former Minister said there is ample resources to accommodate all projects initiated by the previous Administration that sought to address core economic issues at the grass-root level.For example, Ali said by slashing all excess allocation from “dietary” and “national and other events” ($2 billion), to 2014 level, enough funds could be garnered to rehire and offer a 66 per cent increase in stipend to all 1972 dismissed CSO Amerindian Workers.He said it could lend to an increase in the National Toshoa Council subvention by 221 per cent to $50 million, and provide each Amerindian village, across the country, with a $3.5 million cash grant to fund developmental projects.Moreover, he said by removing all excess allocation from “security services” and “transport and travel” ($3 billion), the “Because We Care” cash grant programme not only could be fully re-instated, but each parent could now receive a 50 per cent increase in allocation to $15,000 for each child, attending primarily and nursery school.Ali noted that there will still be an untouched $17 billion in employment cost, and $24 billion in other charges; adequate funds to address payment of severance for sugar workers and increased salary for teachers.