The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has tripled the size of its response to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic to $20 billion and approved measures to streamline its operations for quicker and more flexible delivery of assistance. Earlier on March 18, ADB had announced a $6.5 billion package as initial response to the crisis.

 

ADB’s $20 billion in resources is meant for helping the bank’s developing member countries counter the severe macroeconomic and health impacts caused by Covid-19. The expanded package includes about $2.5 billion in concessional and grant resources.

 

“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,” said ADB president Masatsugu Asakawa. “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.”

 

ADB’s most recent assessment, released on April 3, estimates the global impact of the pandemic at between 2.3 per cent and 4.8 per cent of gross domestic product. Regional growth is forecast to decline from 5.2 per cent last year to 2.2 per cent in 2020.

 

The new package includes the establishment of a Covid-19 Pandemic Response Option under ADB’s Countercyclical Support Facility. Up to $13 billion will be provided through this new option to help governments of developing member countries implement effective countercyclical expenditure programmes to mitigate impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, with a particular focus on the poor and the vulnerable. Grant resources will continue to be deployed quickly for providing medical and personal protective equipment (PPE) and supplies from expanded procurement sources.

 

Some $2 billion from the $20 billion package will be made available for the private sector. Loans and guarantees will be provided to financial institutions 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 Manila-based bank said.

 

The response package includes a number of adjustments to policies and business processes that will allow ADB to respond more rapidly and flexibly to the crisis. These include measures to streamline internal business processes, widen the eligibility and scope of various support facilities, and make the terms and conditions of lending more tailored.

 

ADB will provide all support under the expanded package in close collaboration with international organizations, including the International Monetary Fund; World Bank Group; World Health Organization, UNICEF, and other UN agencies; and the broader global community.

 

Fibre2Fashion News Desk (RKS)