The Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Tuesday approved a USD 1.5 billion loan to India to help fund its response to the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The amount includes support for immediate priorities such as disease containment and prevention, as well as social protection for the poor and economically vulnerable sections of the society, especially women and disadvantaged groups, the regional lender said.
“ADB is fully committed to supporting the Government of India in its response to this unprecedented challenge,” ADB President Masatsugu Asakawa was quoted as saying in an official press release.
“The quick-disbursing fund is part of a larger package of support that ADB will provide in close coordination with the government and other development partners. We are determined to support India’s COVID-19 response programs and ensure that they provide effective support to the people of India, especially the poor and vulnerable,” Asakawa added.
The Manilla-based bank said its COVID-19 Active Response and Expenditure Support (CARES) Program will contribute directly to the improvement of access to health facilities and care, as well as social protection for more than 800 million people, including families below the poverty line, farmers, health care workers, women, senior citizens, people with disabilities, low wage earners, and construction workers.
The 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 USD 20 billion expanded assistance for developing member countries’ COVID-19 response, which was announced on April 13.
The CARES Program will be provided with a USD 2 million technical assistance grant to support the government to strengthen its operational framework and efficient targeting, delivery, and monitoring and evaluation of its pro-poor economic package, as well as its health sector and social protection interventions, the bank said.
The ADB also plans to support government efforts in the medium term by coordinating with other development partners to stimulate the economy, build capacity for monitoring and evaluation of government programs, and improve economic resilience against future shocks. This will include a credit enhancement facility for infrastructure projects, better access to finance for micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises who are particularly hit by an ensuing global recession and the strengthening of public service delivery at national and state levels.
The ADB said India has taken proactive and decisive measures to contain COVID-19 to protect lives, including the implementation of social distancing, community quarantine, and testing and tracking. It has noted the Rs 1.7 trillion relief package unveiled by the Centre last month that provides for immediate assistance for the poor through additional social protection measures and insurance coverage for all types of health workers.