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ADB tables $6.5-billion initial response to pandemic

Mar 18. 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic has become a major global crisis, requiring forceful action at national, regional, and global levels, according to ADB President Masatsugu Asakawa.
The COVID-19 pandemic has become a major global crisis, requiring forceful action at national, regional, and global levels, according to ADB President Masatsugu Asakawa.
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By The Nation

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Wednesday (March 18) announced a US$6.5-billion initial package to address the immediate needs of its developing member countries in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic. “This pandemic requires forceful action at national, regional and global levels,” said ADB president Masatsugu Asakawa.

“With our developing member countries, we are formulating an aggressive set of actions to combat the pandemic, protect the poor and vulnerable and to ensure economies will rebound as swiftly as possible.” 

Asakawa said ADB stands ready to provide further financial assistance and policy advice as the situation warrants, on top of the $6.5-billion package.”

The initial package includes $3.6 billion in sovereign operations for a range of responses to the health and economic consequences of the pandemic, and $1.6 billion in non-sovereign operations for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, domestic and regional trade and firms directly impacted. 

ADB will also distribute about $1 billion in concessional resources through reallocations from ongoing projects and assessing possible needs for contingencies. ADB will make available $40 million in technical assistance and quick-disbursing grants.

To provide the support package to developing member countries as quickly and flexibly as possible, ADB will seek adjustment in its financing instruments and business processes. Subject to approval by its 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.

ADB will strengthen its collaboration with the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, regional development banks, the World Health Organisation and major bilateral funding agencies including the Japan International Cooperation Agency, as well as the US Centres for Disease Control and private-sector organisations, to ensure effective implementation of its Covid-19 response.

Since its first response to the outbreak on February 7, ADB has provided more than $225 million to meet the urgent needs of both governments and businesses. 

Its Covid-19 response to date includes:

February 7: A $2 million grant to enhance infectious disease prevention, detection and response in the China and the Greater Mekong Subregion;

January 27-February 17: $1.5 million in loan savings from the ongoing GMS Health Security Project allocated to procure essential equipment for detection and personal protection;

February 25: A $18.6 million private-sector loan to pharmaceutical distributor based in Wuhan, China, to enable the continued supply of essential medicines and personal protective equipment;

February 26: A second grant window was established with an initial $2 million allocation to help developing nations contain Covid-19 and improve resilience. Additional financing is being mobilised for this grant window;

March 12: $200 million made available through ADB’s Supply Chain Finance Programme for companies manufacturing and distributing medicines and other items needed to combat the virus. Through its partner financial institutions, ADB can provide essential working capital to such companies;

March 13: A $3 million grant to support the Philippine government’s response, including the purchase of emergency medical supplies and the delivery of effective health care services;

March 13: A $600,000 grant from the Health System Enhancement Project to finance preventive and response efforts in Sri Lanka, including disease surveillance and the provision of medical supplies and equipment;

March 13: $100,000 was reallocated from the Tajikistan Maternal and Child Health Integrated Care Project to finance COVID-19 prevention and mitigation, medical supplies, and equipment;

March 18: $1.4 million was reallocated 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 also approved a $225,000 small-scale technical assistance to strengthen Mongolia’s national capacity for infection prevention and control.

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