The Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Friday (March 27) said a bigger financial assistance package worth at least $1.6 billion will be provided to the Philippines in the coming weeks to help in the fight against COVID-19.

The Philippines is ADB’s host country.

“The ADB is fully committed to supporting the Philippines’ efforts to overcome these unprecedented, extraordinary, and challenging times,” said ADB president Masagatsu Asakawa in a statement.

“We will be ready with a large assistance package within weeks to help the government carry out a response with maximum impact,” he said in the statement which came after discussions with Philippine Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III, ADB’s governor for the Philippines.

Asakawa said the massive funding for the Philippines, which would come from the ADB’s $6.5 billion rescue package, “will include a large, quick disbursing loan available for use immediately upon approval.”

The $1.6 billion package would give “support for cash transfers and assistance to the health sector to rapidly establish emergency facilities and purchase much-needed equipment such as ventilators.”

Ventilators are expensive pieces of equipment, which cost up to $40,000 each, that are also in demand in New York, the United States’ financial hub, which is in need of up to 30,000 ventilators and has been shopping around to no avail.

Asakawa said the ADB would also deliver three “quick-disbursing policy-based loans” worth $1.1 billion to support “ongoing government programs” and a $500 million “disaster resilience finance program.”

The ADB, he said, had already approved a $3 million grant for the purchase of medical supplies.

“A new innovative facility will be launched within days to deliver food to the poor” with the help of the government and private sector, Asakawa said.

The $3 million grant would be spent on a new lab with diagnostic equipment, testing kits and supplies at the Jose Lingad Memorial Regional Hospital in San Fernando City, Pampanga province.

The Pampanga lab will be equipped to administer 1,000 COVID-19 tests daily, the ADB said.

Also, Asakawa thanked Dominguez for the finance secretary’s letter to his fellow ADB governors urging the grant of more leeway to the lender to 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 last Thursday (March 26).

Edited by TSB


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