The Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Friday said a bigger financial assistance worth at least $1.6 billion would be provided to the Philippines in the coming weeks to help its host-country in fighting the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).
In a statement following discussions with Secretary of Finance Carlos G Dominguez III, ADB president Masatsugu Asakawa said: “The ADB is fully committed to supporting the Philippines’ efforts to overcome these unprecedented, extraordinary and challenging times.
“We will be ready with a large assistance package within weeks to help the government carry out a response with maximum impact.”
Dominguez serves as the Manila-based multilateral lender’s governor for the Philippines.
Asakawa said the fresh assistance, which would come from the ADB’s $6.5 billion “rescue” package, would include a large, quick-disbursing loan available for use immediately upon approval, support for cash transfers and assistance to the health sector to rapidly establish additional emergency facilities and purchase much-needed equipment such as ventilators.
“In addition, the ADB will deliver three quick-disbursing, policy-based loans totalling $1.1 billion to support ongoing government programmes, and a $500-million disaster resilience finance programme.
“We have already approved a $3 million grant to procure medical supplies. A new innovative facility will be launched within days to deliver food to the poor, with participation by the government and the private sector,” he said.
The earlier ADB grant will be spent to establish a “new, modern laboratory with diagnostic equipment, testing kits and supplies” at Jose Lingad Memorial Regional Hospital in City of San Fernando, Pampanga.
The Pampanga laboratory will be equipped to administer 1,000 Covid-19 tests daily, the ADB said.
Asakawa thanked Dominguez for the latter’s letter to his fellow ADB governors urging the grant of more leeway to the lender so it could fast-track distribution of its resources to better respond to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I hope there will be a positive response from the ADB governors to my appeal sooner than later so swift action can be taken,” Dominguez said on Thursday.
PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER/ASIA NEWS NETWORK