Govt clears documents to avail $305m loan from ADB


ISLAMABAD: The government on Tuesday cleared documents to avail a $305 million loan from the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

The amount will be used for providing relief to the vulnerable segments of society through the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) and necessary medical equipment to hospitals through the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).

A meeting of the Concept Clearance Committee led by Planning Commission deputy chairman Mohammad Jahanzeb Khan approved the $305m financing plan being offered by the ADB in its efforts to support the Covid-19 emergency relief services under the “Emergency Assistance for Fighting against Covid-19 Pandemic”.

An ADB delegation led by Country Director Xiaohong Yang also attended the meeting. Under the plan, the ADB will provide $200m for social protection for the poor and vulnerable and $105m for public health emergency preparedness.

Amount will be used for providing relief to coronavirus-hit people, equipment to hospitals

The proposal will also focus on stockpiling of stores and health inventories for any unexpected surge in Covid-19 cases and to sustain provision of personal protective equipment (PPE) and medical supplies throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

The proposal also envisages upgrade of the existing facilities or adding additional space within the existing facilities, training of health staff, strengthening of the health management systems, including inventory control, disease surveillance, and standard protocols, as well as provision of water and sanitation facilities and improvement of hygiene at public places.

The loan targets to deliver first batch of supplies or construct first batch of assets by September 2020 and release additional emergency cash transfers to eligible BISP beneficiaries by June 2020 and for the July-October period by December 2020. This loan is part of the $588m loans approved by the World Bank and the ADB as part of the National Emergency Preparedness Response Plan for Covid-19.

Of the ADB’s share of $350m, $50m National Disaster Risk Management Fund (NDRMF) has been repurposed to the health component.

The remaining $300m will be through an emergency assistance lending for which Pakistan has sent an official request to the ADB in the last week of March.

In consultation with the BISP, NDRMF and Economic Affairs Division, the ADB has slightly adjusted the allocation between health component and social protection component in the approved concept notes with a total ADB and bilateral financing of $305m, including a $5m grant from the Norwegian government.

More specifically, the health component, including the $50m ADB existing project, now comes down from $170m to $155m, while the social protection component increased from $180m to $200m.

Jahanzeb Khan said that the government was exploring avenues to provide assistance to those directly affected by the pandemic that were previously not eligible for financial assistance from the BISP.

Various modalities for provision of the funding to the government of Pakistan under the loan agreement were discussed.

The forum accorded approval to ADB loan for the federal government which will be implemented through the National Disaster Risk Management Fund for execution in the provinces and special areas as grant.

Officials from the Ministry of Planning Commission, Ministry of National Health Services and Reg­ulation, Economic Affairs Division, Ministry of Finance, NDMA and Benazir Income Support Programme participated in the meeting.

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