The Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Tuesday approved a 250 million US dollars concessional loan to help the Government of Nepal fund its response to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. This includes measures to strengthen the country’s public health systems and mitigate the adverse economic and social impacts of the pandemic, particularly on the poor, says a statement issued by the Bank.
ADB’s financing will also support the government in extending its social protection program to include distribution of food assistance to the poorest and vulnerable households, provision of employment support to the unemployed poor, especially women, and returning migrant workers. Subsidized lending will be extended to affected micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises, of which at least 30% are women-led, with at least half of them from disadvantaged groups.
The COVID-19 Active Response and Expenditure Support (CARES) Program is funded through the COVID-19 pandemic response option (CPRO) under ADB’s Countercyclical Support Facility. CPRO was established as part of ADB’s $20 billion expanded assistance for developing member countries’ COVID-19 response, which was announced on 13 April.
The CARES Program will support the government in scaling up its testing capacity to at least 3,000 tests per day and establishing quarantine facilities for at least 200,000 people with separate wards for women and men in all seven provinces. Incentives will be provided for medical and other frontline personnel responding to COVID-19.
The ADB has already provided Nepal a 300,000 USD grant to procure medical supplies, in close collaboration with UNICEF. This grant has funded urgently needed and critical personal protective equipment to enable medical personnel to safely treat infected patients. ADB is working closely with the government and development partners to provide policy advice and develop measures to deal with the social and economic impacts of the pandemic, adds the statement.
In the statement, ADB President Masatsugu Asakawa has said that ADB is strongly committed to supporting Nepal at this crucial time and the concessional loan will enable the government to continue its containment measures, extend its social protection program for the poor and vulnerable, and set the stage for an early economic recovery. “The COVID-19 pandemic continues to be a serious public health issue and will significantly impact Nepal’s overall social and economic development. ADB will work closely with the government and other development partners to help ensure a coordinated and effective response.”
Source: National News Agency Nepal