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ADB extending record-high $4.2B in loans to PH to help fight pandemic

By: - Reporter / @bendeveraINQ
/ 04:39 PM July 23, 2020

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will extend to the Philippines a record $4.2 billion (over P207 billion) in concessional loans this year, with most of it for use in giving a boost to the Philippine government’s battle with the health and economic crises caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kelly Bird, ADB Philippines country director, said at an online press briefing on Thursday (July 23) that ADB’s lending program for the Philippines in 2020 surpassed the previous high of $2.5 billion in loans for the country in 2019.

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Oscar Badiola, ADB Philippines senior program officer, said six loans had already been approved in the first half of 2020:

  • $1.5-billion COVID-19 active response and expenditure support (Cares) program
  • $200-million social protection support project, second additional financing
  • $400-million support to capital market-generated infrastructure financing, subprogram 1
  • $500-million expanded social assistance project
  • $126-million Angat water transmission improvement project, additional financing
  • $26.5-million local governance reform project

Next month, the ADB was scheduled to approve the following loans:

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  • $400-million competitive and inclusive agriculture development program
  • $300-million inclusive finance development program
  • $125-million health systems enhancement to address and limit (Heal) COVID-19

By September, the ADB was expected to approve the $500-million disaster resilience improvement program, while the $300-million EDSA greenways project will likely get the green light in November, Badiola added.

The Heal COVID-19 project and the disaster resilience improvement program were both geared toward fighting COVID-19.

Earlier ADB documents said the disaster resilience improvement program loan “will provide the government with rapid access to resources to initiate disaster response and early recovery efforts” and “address the health and economic impacts of health-related emergencies with minimal delay.”

Bird said this was a new facility being worked out with the Department of Finance (DOF).

On the Heal COVID-19 project, Rikard Elfving, ADB’s senior social sector specialist for Southeast Asia, said the objective was to strengthen the Department of Health’s (DOH) capacity to detect, contain, and treat coronavirus infections.

The DOH-led project will upgrade disease surveillance and diagnostic capacity, expand infection prevention and control measures and scale up treatment capacity for COVID-19, Elfving said.

The Heal project will be implemented from September this year until July 2023, Elfving added.

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For 2021, Badiola said the ADB had lined up at least 10 loans totalling $4.1 billion mainly for big-ticket infrastructure projects, which were expected to help the economy recover through additional employment and capital investments.

Bird said the ADB’s financial support to the Philippines was aligned with the government’s COVID-19 response, which included:

  • immediate relief to vulnerable sectors
  • rebuilding the damage inflicted by the pandemic on businesses and jobs
  • eventual economic and employment recovery
  • strengthening the health system’s capacity to deal with the disease by testing, contact tracing, isolation and treatment.

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TAGS: #COVID19PH, ADB, budget support, coronavirus Philippines, economy, Loans, pandemic, recovery, treatment
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