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Tuesday, November 24, 2020

ADB to help Pakistan to fight COVID-19

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The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has assured Islamabad of providing $1.7 billion (approximately Rs274 billion) including $800 million (Rs129 billion) for COVID-19 and $900 million (Rs145 billion) in policy-based lending in the ongoing and next fiscal year, reported The News.

According to an official announcement, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs Khusro Bakhtiar held a teleconference with ADB President Masatsugu Asakawa at the Ministry of Economic Affairs on Friday which was attended by senior officials from both sides.

Bakhtiar thanked the ADB president for extending financial assistance of $2.5 million as a grant and re-purposing $50 million for the procurement of equipment related to the COVID-19 response in Pakistan. He also requested the ADB president for early approval of $500 million as Counter Cyclical Support and $300 million as Emergency Assistance Lending (EAL) within this financial year.

The minister also urged the ADB president for his support to pipeline $900 million as various Policy Based Loans for reforms in capital markets, trade and competitiveness and energy sector to be approved by the ADB board before the end of 2020.

The federal minister said that the socioeconomic impact of coronavirus is much harsher in the developing and low-income countries due to their limited technical and financial capacity.
“With this in mind, the prime minister has appealed to the world community, including bilateral and multilateral development partners, for their joint support to address socio-economic challenges and debt relief for developing countries,” he said.

Moreover, President Asakawa apprised the minister that so far the ADB has extended grant assistance worth $2.5 million and repurposed $50 million from National Disaster Risk Management Fund (NDRMF) for Pakistan to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and bolster the country’s capability to contain the virus.

He also assured that the Bank will positively consider Pakistan’s request for timely approval of additional financing from its board.

Last month, the ADB had re-purposed $50 million from the NDRMF to support the country’s preventive and response efforts to fight the coronavirus outbreak.
The funds, which form part of ADB’s series of support measures for Pakistan’s fight against COVID-19, will help to procure medical equipment and supplies to strengthen hospitals, diagnostic laboratories, isolation units, and other medical facilities in the country.

The funds include the reallocation of $30 million of previously approved but unutilised resources from ADB to NDRMF.

Aside from the $50 million, ADB also mobilised existing technical assistance — capacity building of Disaster Risk Management Institutions — to provide training for at least 5,000 doctors, nurses, and technical staff working on the front lines in intensive care facilities.

The grant would also provide additional technical capacity to the government for planning and coordinating its COVID-19 response.

In March, the lender approved $2.5 million in immediate response grant funding to help Pakistan purchase emergency medical supplies, personal protective equipment, diagnostic and laboratory supplies, and other equipment.

This consisted of $2 million from ADB’s Asia Pacific Disaster Response Fund and $500,000 for procurement of supplies through UNICEF.

Sajjad Ahmed
Sajjad Ahmed
Photojournalist / Web Editor

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