ADB triples aid to $20B vs Covid-19

MANILA — The Asian Development Bank (ADB) said Monday it tripled the size of its response to the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic to USD20 billion and approved measures to streamline its operations for quicker and more flexible delivery of assistance.

The package expands ADB’s USD6.5 billion initial response announced on March 18, adding USD13.5 billion in resources to help its developing member countries counter the severe macroeconomic and health impacts caused by Covid-19. 

The USD20-billion package includes about USD2.5 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,” ADB President Masatsugu Asakawa said in a statement. 

“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,” he said.

ADB’s most recent assessment released on April 3 estimates the global impact of the pandemic at between 2.3 percent and 4.8 percent of gross domestic product. 

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

The new package includes the establishment of a Covid-19 Pandemic Response Option under ADB’s Countercyclical Support Facility. 

Up to USD13 billion will be provided through this new option to help governments of developing member countries implement effective countercyclical expenditure programs 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 and supplies from expanded procurement sources.

Some USD2 billion from the USD20-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 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.

All support under the expanded package will be provided in close collaboration with international organizations, including the International Monetary Fund; World Bank Group; World Health Organization, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and other UN agencies; and the broader global community. ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region. (PR)