ADB to give $300m loan to mitigate Covid-19 impact

Updated June 06, 2020

Email

The board of directors of the Manila-based lending agency had approved the emergency loan on May 19. — AFP/File
The board of directors of the Manila-based lending agency had approved the emergency loan on May 19. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Friday signed an agreement with Pakistan for a $300 million emergency loan to help the country mitigate the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The board of directors of the Manila-based lending agency had approved the emergency loan on May 19 to strengthen Pakistan’s public health response to the Covid-19 pandemic and help meet basic needs of poor and vulnerable people.

The agreement was signed on behalf of Pakistan by Economic Affairs Division secretary Noor Ahmed and ADB Country Director for Pakistan Xiaohong Yang. Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety Division secretary Yousuf Khan and National Disaster Risk Management Fund (NDRMF) chief executive Nadeem Ahmed signed the project documents.

“The ADB assistance will support Pakistan’s social protection programme Ehsaas to continue providing emergency cash transfers to poor families and women,” said Ms Yang, adding that it would also help swiftly upgrade medical facilities and procure necessary supplies for hospitals and frontline health workers, meet rapid training and capacity building needs and purchase emergency vehicles to strengthen rescue capacity in remote border areas.

The project also aims at strengthening Covid-19 awareness among marginal communities with limited television or internet connectivity and will provide cash assistance to directly benefit women of poor households through the government’s Ehs­aas Emergency Cash Assistance Pack­age, launched in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The government’s cash assistance pac­kage is delivered through its Ehsaas Kafalat social protection and welfare programme.

“These payments are designed to meet the basic food needs and necessary living expenses of poor and vulnerable women and families which are the bedrock of Pakistani society,” said ADB’s Project Administration Unit Head and co-team leader of the project Zheng Wu.

Unconditional cash transfers help improve the nutritional intake of poor households and boost women’s economic empowerment, Wu said.

A statement said the Covid-19 pandemic was having a significant detrimental impact on the health and econo­mic prospects of the people of Pakistan and the loan will help build Pakistan’s capacity to cope with the pandemic and other health emergencies.

The government of Norway has also contributed $5.28m grant to strengthen the em­­e­r­gency response system in Khyber Pakh­tunkhwa province amid the Covid-19 crisis.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Pakistan government signed an agreement on Friday to expand support for Pakistan’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province through the NDRMF.

Published in Dawn, June 6th, 2020