New Delhi, Apr 28 : The Government and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Tuesday signed a USD 1.5 billion loan that will support the government’s response to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, focusing on 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 signatories to the loan agreement for the ADB’s COVID-19 Active Response and Expenditure Support Programme (CARES Programme) were Sameer Kumar Khare, Additional Secretary (Fund Bank and ADB), in the Department of Economic Affairs in Ministry of Finance, and Kenichi Yokoyama, Country Director, ADB, in India. Earlier, the ADB’s Board of Directors approved the loan to provide budget support to the government to counter and mitigate the adverse health and socio-economic impact of the pandemic.
“We thank ADB’s timely assistance for the government’s immediate response measures to the coronavirus pandemic to implement COVID-19 containment plan to rapidly ramp up test-tracktreatment capacity, and social protection for the poor, vulnerable, women, and disadvantaged groups to protect more than 800 million people over the next three months,” said Khare.
Yokoyama said ADB is glad to support India’s bold measures to contain the COVID- 19 pandemic outbreak while protecting the most vulnerable people affected by movement restrictions, by fast-tracking and delivering the largest ever loan to India.
Earlier, during a telephone call with Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and the ADB Governor on April 9, ADB president Masatsugu Asakawa conveyed ADB’s commitment to support India’s emergency needs for the health sector while alleviating the economic impact of the pandemic, as well as short to medium-term measures to restore the dynamic economic growth of the country by exploring all available financing options.
India has taken several decisive measures to contain the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, including a USD 2 billion health sector spending programme to expand hospital facilities, ramp up test-track-treatment capacity and launched a USD 23 billion pro-poor package to provide direct cash transfer, provide basic consumption goods and free cooking gas cylinders to the poor, particularly to women, old and socially disadvantaged groups. (UNI)