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Asian Development Bank to provide $1.7b to fight coronavirus

Asian Development Bank to provide $1.7b to fight coronavirus

ISLAMABAD: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has assured to provide $1.7 billion to Pakistan to fight the impacts of the coronavirus.

The assurance was given by the bank’s president during a virtual meeting with Minister for Economic Affairs Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar.

The bank will approve $800 million budget support by June this year. It will provide next tranche of $900 million by the end of this year.

The budget support will be provided to Pakistan on special concessionary basis.

The minister for economic affairs thanked ADB for extending the financial cooperation to Pakistan.

Meanwhile, ADB in a press statement said Federal Minister for Economic Affairs Makhdoom Khusro Bukhtiar and Asian Development Bank (ADB) President Masatsugu Asakawa discussed how the bank could scale up its support for the government’s response to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

“The virus outbreak in Pakistan has already led to a significant loss of life and livelihoods, and continues to pose serious health and economic risks to the people of Pakistan,” said Asakawa.

“ADB is firmly committed to helping Pakistan fight this pandemic, reduce the impact on the poorest and most vulnerable groups across the country, and protect the economy.”

The ADB’s chief further said the bank is preparing an emergency assistance package to provide immediate and flexible financing to help Pakistan combat the outbreak, revitalise economic activity for affected communities, and support the basic needs of vulnerable and poor segments of society.

“ADB is also working to mobilise additional grant funding for Pakistan and specific measures to support the private sector.”

Asakawa commended the government for its swift response to mitigate the impact of COVID-19.

Bukhtiar expressed appreciation for ADB’s timely and continued support for Pakistan.

On April 9, ADB repurposed $50 million from the Pakistan’s National Disaster Risk Management Fund to procure medical equipment to strengthen hospitals, diagnostic laboratories, isolation units, and other medical facilities in the country. These supplies have begun to arrive in Pakistan and are being delivered to frontline health workers, while the bank is working intensively to deliver further supplies under this assistance.

Last month, ADB approved $2.5 million in immediate response grant funding to help Pakistan purchase personal protective equipment and other emergency medical supplies. This consisted of $2 million from ADB’s Asia Pacific Disaster Response Fund and $500,000 for procurement of supplies through UNICEF.

These are part of ADB’s expanded support package of $20 billion announced on 13 April to address the immediate needs of its developing member countries, including Pakistan, as they respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. ADB also approved measures to streamline its operations for quicker and more flexible delivery of assistance.