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World Bank greenlights $200M credit for Cambodian Covid fight

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A health worker administers the Sinovac vaccine to a man in Phnom Penh's Por Sen Chey district on June 16. Heng Chivoan

World Bank greenlights $200M credit for Cambodian Covid fight

World Bank on June 24 approved a $200 million International Development Association (IDA) credit for the Cambodia Relief, Recovery and Resilience Development Policy Financing Project (DPF), to provide a shot in the arm for the Kingdom’s Covid-19 fight and drive towards economic recovery.

"The project will help Cambodia deal with the Covid-19 crisis by providing timely and targeted relief to affected people, facilitating robust recovery through structural reforms and building resilience against future economic shocks," the Washington-based multilateral lender said.

The bank pointed out that the pandemic has triggered unprecedented socio-economic turmoil in Cambodia, which is now grappling with the “February 20 community event” – the worst coronavirus outbreak since the pandemic took hold in the Kingdom.

Last year’s 3.1 per cent decline in gross domestic product (GDP) was the Kingdom’s first contraction in thirty years, it noted.

“The sectors most impacted by the crisis – including garments, tourism and construction – are also those which account for much of the employment in the country, creating additional challenges for a sustained economic recovery.

“In the absence of significant mitigation measures, the pandemic could result in sharp rises in unemployment and poverty, with the number of people falling into poverty expected to swell by nearly one million,” the bank added.

World Bank country manager for Cambodia Inguna Dobraja said: “There is a clear need in Cambodia to provide quick-disbursing resources in support of a comprehensive, government-led programme that will protect the poorest from the impacts of the crisis and assist with the country’s economic and social recovery.”

The bank noted that the government has taken several emergency response measures and is drawing up a Post-Covid-19 Economic Recovery Plan.

"This latest DPF will assist the government’s efforts in mitigating the immediate fallout of the pandemic by supporting actions that provide financial relief to affected households and firms.

“These actions include the introduction of reforms to improve the business environment, as well as measures to strengthen public finance management and revenue-mobilisation institutions.

“This project represents an integral part of the World Bank Group’s broader Covid-19 response in the country and is part of a package of budget-support operations being provided by a number of Cambodia’s development partners, including the Asian Development Bank, the European Union and the Japan International Cooperation Agency,” it said.

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