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  • Writer's pictureMelo Acuna

ADB assures developing countries funds to combat COVID-19

Asian Development Bank (ADB) sets US$6.5 billion initial package to fight COVID-19

MANILA – The Asian Development Bank today said a US$6.5 billion initial package has been prepared to address the immediate needs of its developing member countries (DMCs) as they cope with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“This pandemic has become a major global crisis. It requires forceful action at national, regional, and global levels,” said ADB President Masatsugu Asakawa. He said with the developing member countries, they are formulating an aggressive set of actions to combat the pandemic, to protect the poor, the vulnerable, and wider populations across the region and ensure economies will recover at the soonest possible time.

“Based on close dialogue with our members and peer institutions, we are deploying this US$6.5 billion rescue package to meet the immediate needs of our members,” he further said. He added the Bank is prepared to provide further financial assistance and policy advice to the health and economic consequences of the pandemic, and US$1.6 non-sovereign operations for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, domestic and regional trade, and firms directly affected. ADB will also mobilize about US$1 billion in concessional resources through reallocations from ongoing projects and assessing possible needs for contingencies. Another US$40 million in technical assistance and quick-disbursing grants has been prepared.

In a statement released late Wednesday afternoon, ADB said the provide support package to DMCs the fastest way possible, the Bank will seek adjustment in its financing instruments and business processes. Subject to approval by ADB’s Board of Directors, this will include faster access to emergency budget support for economies facing severe fiscal constraints, streamlined procedures for policy-based lending, and universal procurement with flexible and faster processes.

The pandemic requires a coordinated response and strong partnership among countries and organizations. ADB will further strengthen its close collaboration with the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, regional development banks, the World Health Organization, and major bilateral funding agencies including the Japan International Cooperation Agency as well as the US Centers for Disease Control and private sector organizations, to ensure effected implementation of its COVID-19 response.

From its first COVID-19 response last February 7, ADB has released more than US$225 million to meet the urgent needs of governments and businesses in Developing Member Countries.

A US$2 million grant to enhance infectious disease prevention, detection, and response in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Greater Mekong Subregion.

Last February 25, a CNY130 million or US$18.6 million private sector loan to a Wuhan, PRC-based pharmaceutical distributor to enable the continued supply of essential medicines and personal protective equipment.

A second grant window was established with an initial US$2 million allocation to help DMCs contain COVID-19 and improve resilience. Additional financing is being mobilized for this grant window.

Last March 12, a US$200 million fund was made available through ADB’s Supply Chain Finance Program for companies manufacturing and distributing medicines and other items to combat COVID-19. Through its partner financial institutions, ADB can provide essential working capital to such companies.

The Philippines received US$3 million to support its response to COVID-19 including the purchase of emergency medical supplies and the delivery of effective health care services.

It was last March 13 when ADB released a US$600,000 grant from its Health System Enhancement Project to finance preventive and response efforts in Sri Lanka which include disease surveillance and the provision of medical supplies and equipment.

On the same day, US$100,000 was reallocated form the Tajikistan Maternal and Child Health Integrated Care Project to fund COVID-19 prevention and mitigation, medical supplies and equipment.

Today, the ADB reallocated US$1.4 million from the Fifth Health Sector Development Project in Mongolia to procure essential medical equipment for early detection, emergency care, and management of severe respiratory diseases. ADB approved a US$225,000 small-scale technical assistance to strengthen Mongolia’s national capacity for infection prevention and control.

ADB’s initial economic analysis and associated data files were released last March 6,2020 in The Economic Impact of the COVID-19 Outbreak on Developing Asia. It has estimates of the impact on developing Asia and on individual economies and sectors in the region including sharp declines in domestic demand, lower tourism and business travel, trace and production linkages, supply disruptions and health effects.

ADB will soon release the updated estimates of the economic impact of the pandemic in its Asian Development Outlook to be released on Wednesday, April 1,2020. (Melo M. Acuña)

ADB President Masatsugu Asakawa (ADB File Photo)

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