British Prime Minister Boris Johnson presented today a plan inspired by the American “New Deal” to, with 5 billion pounds (US $ 6.13 billion), try to remove the United Kingdom from the crisis caused by the coronavirus. “Rebuild better, rebuild greener, rebuild faster,” said Johnson during the presentation of the package at a glance.
In a speech organized in Dudley, in central England, one of the areas that drove his big victory in the December elections, Johnson spoke as if he were still on the podium. “It is time to be ambitious and not only are we going to recover, but we are going to move forward, stronger, better and more united,” said the prime minister. During the election campaign, Johnson pledged to inject millions of pounds into public services to reduce inequalities in the country.
Despite the decision to close shops and non-essential schools in Leicester (center), after detecting almost 900 new cases of Covid-19 in the past two weeks, the conservative leader remains determined to restart activities in the rest of the country. The United Kingdom is the third most affected nation by the pandemic in the world, with 43,575 dead so far, and is facing a serious economic and social crisis caused by the virus, at the same time that it is separating from the European Union.
After putting a construction helmet on a construction site, Johnson developed his vision for getting the British economy out of the hole. The £ 5 billion plan for infrastructure investments can be summed up by the slogan “build, build, build,” said the head of government.
“It looks like a New Deal (…) because that’s what the times demand: a strong and determined government that embraces people in times of crisis,” he said in reference to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s so-called “New Deal” policy , which made it possible to revive the American economy through demand and state intervention after the Great Depression of the 1930s.
“This moment gives us a much greater opportunity to be radical and do things differently,” he said.
A billion pounds will go to schools and 1.5 billion to hospitals. Johnson also intends to modify the urban planning system to address the housing crisis. The reform will be accompanied by a package of measures that include a £ 2 billion program to finance the construction of 180,000 new homes over the next eight years. A portion of the funds will also be used for road maintenance and construction works.
“I am not a communist”
“I am not a communist,” said Johnson, seeking to minimize the interventionist aspect that is outlined to save the British economy. The conservative leader also announced his intention to stimulate private initiative, mainly in the area of technological innovation. “We can be a scientific superpower,” he said.
Before the speech, based on elements published in the British press, the Labor opposition criticized an “unambitious” plan, given the scale of the crisis, while Greenpeace judged that the package at a glance was not up to the climate challenges.
“Where is the government’s support for cleaner and better transport, warmer homes and renewable energy?” Asked John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace UK.
In the opinion of Ed Davey, leader of the opposition Liberal Democratic Party, “to recover, the United Kingdom urgently needs investments in environmentally friendly infrastructure, a green glance plan that creates prosperity and jobs at the same time. facing the climate crisis “.
“Roosevelt’s New Deal spawned megaprojects like the Hoover Dam – while the Prime Minister’s list of priority projects includes repairing a bridge in Sandwell,” the Financial Times newspaper said wryly.
Only in April, the confinement, imposed in the country as of March 23, and which has been progressively eased for a month, caused a drop of 20.4% in the British Gross Domestic Product (GDP), a historic record. The figures for the first quarter point to a 2.2% drop in GDP, followed by the collapse of April, suggesting a recession of historic magnitude.
Without government help, unemployment could reach levels recorded in the 1980s and surpass the peak of 3.3 million people out of work in 1984, according to an analysis by the Library of the House of Commons published by The Observer.
Johnson was determined to go ahead with the investment plan and the promise that the country will not return to the austerity imposed by conservatives after the 2008 financial crisis.
“This government is not only committed to defeating the coronavirus, but to using this crisis to finally face the country’s major unsolved challenges in the past three decades,” he said.
With AFP information