A.D.B. contributes $8.1 million to coronavirus response

Samoa has received an $8.1 million tala boost for its response to the coronavirus from the Asian Development Bank. 

The Bank revealed its US$2.9 million grant in a media statement on Thursday. 

The funding is drawn from the A.D.B.’s Pacific Disaster Resilience Program, which is aimed at helping Pacific Governments’ responses to the global pandemic.

"The $2.9 million grant will help fund the country’s response to this unprecedented health emergency,” said the A.D.B.’s Director General for the Pacific Leah Gutierrez. 

“This quick-disbursing financing will allow Samoa to respond rapidly to the challenges of the pandemic and help support vulnerable groups."

Samoa has been reeling from double blows of the measles and coronavirus.

The lockdown and closure of the country’s borders have led to significant downturns in economic activity related to tourism and exports. 

Last week, the Bank released a report titled, "Asian Development Outlook 2020" predicting that Pacific Island economies including Samoa are expected to shrink by 0.3 per cent in 2020, even under a scenario where travel restrictions are gradually eased by the second half of the year. 

"Samoa saw visitor arrivals and economic activity boosted by the Pacific Games in July, but the economy is expected to contract by 3.0 per cent in [Financial Year 2020] from the combined effects of measles and COVID-19 on tourism from the second quarter of  [Financial Year 2020]," read the Bank's report.

" [Financial Year 2021] will be similarly affected, with G.D.P. expected to grow by only 0.8% as tourism recovers only slowly but with positive contributions from communications and agriculture.”

Rommel Rabanal, an economist with the A.D.B.’s Pacific Department said the country’s economic contraction will be most severe in tourism-driven economies, including Samoa Fiji, Palau, Tonga, and Vanuatu, which will undergo an average forecast decline of about 3.9 per cent.

“Small island developing states are facing particularly critical challenges to minimise the impact of COVID-19 on their vulnerable people and economies,” he told the Samoa Observer. 

“The unprecedented nature of this pandemic’s impacts means that governments and development partners—both multilateral and bilateral—will need to fully coordinate their efforts to ensure that immediate needs are met and the eventual recovery process is adequately supported through concerted action.”

The A.D.B.’s Pacific Disaster Resilience Program was established in December 2017 to help strengthen Samoa, Tonga, and Tuvalu’s resilience to disasters. 

The Bank's $2.9 million grant will accompany A.D.B.’s $20 billion package aimed to support member economies as they deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

This week the International Monetary Fund forecast a contraction in global economic output of 3 per cent.

But Samoa’s economy would be even more exposed to the economic headwinds posed by the global pandemic, the Central Bank of Samoa has forecast the economy could contract by as much as 6.6 per cent by year’s end. 

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