A.D.B. ups coronavirus response by $13.5 billion

The Asian Development Bank (A.D.B.) has increased its coronavirus (COVID-19) response package to US$20 billion (T$55.7 billion) this week and will make payments to member countries faster than normal, the bank announced. 

Last month, the bank revealed it would be committing $6.5 billion to its developing member countries to manage the economic and health burdens the pandemic is causing.

The new package of an additional T$37.6 billion includes $6.9 billion in concessional and grant resources. President Masatusugu Asakawa said the funding is needed to avoid reversing the progress developing countries are making on poverty reduction and economic growth.

“This pandemic threatens to severely set back economic, social, and development gains in Asia and the Pacific, reverse progress on poverty reduction, and throw economies into recession,” he said.

“Our expanded and comprehensive package of assistance, made possible with the strong support of our Board, will be delivered more quickly, flexibly, and forcefully to the governments and the private sector in our developing member countries to help them address the urgent challenges in tackling the pandemic and economic downturn.”

In its annual Asian Development Outlook 2020, the Bank predicted the global impact of the pandemic would be between 2.3 and 4.8 per cent of gross domestic product.

Pacific economies are expected to contract by an average of 0.3 per cent this year due to interrupted tourism and trade and cancelled construction projects. 

The Bank projects an optimistic average recovery in economic output of 2.7 per cent per cent on the assumption that tourism, construction projects, labour mobility and construction projects resume.

Regional growth is forecast to decline from 5.2 percent last year to 2.2 per cent in 2020.

Samoa has already received a grant of T$8,218,324 from the A.D.B. from its Contingency Disaster Facility originally established to help natural disaster responses but recently expanded to include the pandemic.

Under the new package, up to $36.2 billion is for developing member countries to deliver programmes that increase spending and cut taxes to counter the impending recessions, or countercyclical expenditure programmes, with a focus on poor and vulnerable communities.

Additionally, grant resources will continue to be deployed quickly for providing medical and personal protective equipment and supplies from expanded procurement sources.

Developing countries’ private sectors will have $5.5 billion available from which to seek loans and guarantees to rejuvenate trade and supply chains.

“Enhanced microfinance loan and guarantee support and a facility to help liquidity-starved small and medium-sized enterprises, including those run by female entrepreneurs, will be implemented alongside direct financing of companies responding to, or impacted by, COVID-19,” the Bank states.

The A.D.B.’s policies and business processes have been adjusted to let it respond faster to the crisis, including streamlining internal processes, increasing the scope of its support facilities and tailoring lending terms and conditions.

The expanded package delivery will be coordinated with the International Monetary Fund; World Bank Group; World Health Organization, The United Nations Children’s Fund (U.N.I.C.E.F.) and other U.N agencies; and the broader global community.

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