ADB: $500m loan to help Pakistan’s coronavirus handling, economic relief

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a loan worth $500 million to Pakistan to help the country’s coronavirus health and economic response and “protect poor” citizens, it said in a statement issued Wednesday.

The announcement was made following a meeting of the ADB’s Board of Directors in Philippines’ capital, Manila.

The regional development financial institution noted that the coronavirus pandemic was forecast to hamper Pakistan’s economic growth, revenue collection, and employment. The country’s response to the outbreak of the respiratory illness was hindered owing to a low ration of healthcare workers to population and a lack of hospital beds.

The lender said the loan would help the Pakistani government “deliver social protection programs to the poor and vulnerable, expand health sector capabilities, and deliver a pro-poor fiscal stimulus to boost growth and create jobs as the country fights the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic”.

“This loan will help plug selected funding gaps as the government implements its countercyclical development plan, including strengthening the country’s social safety net and health sector capacity.”

In April, the ADB had re-allocated $30 million from Pakistan’s National Disaster Risk Management Fund (NDRMF) Project and the NDRMF Board of Directors allocated an additional $20 million to procure medical equipment to strengthen hospitals and other medical facilities in the country.

It had 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.

In March, the lender approved $2.5 million in immediate response grant funding to help Pakistan purchase emergency medical supplies, PPEs, diagnostic and laboratory supplies, and other equipment. It had comprised $2 million from the bank’s Asia Pacific Disaster Response Fund and $500,000 for procurement of supplies through the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).