Asian Development Bank (ADB) president Masatsugu Asakawa Friday assured Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman of $2.2-billion financial support to India in its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. “ADB is committed to supporting India’s emergency needs. We are now preparing $2.2 billion in immediate assistance to the health sector and to help alleviate the economic impact of the pandemic on the poor; informal workers; micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises; and the financial sector,” he said.
ADB is also engaged with the private sector to meet its financing needs during this period, the bank said. “ADB assistance for India will be further increased if needed. We will consider all financing options available with us to meet India’s needs, including emergency assistance, policy-based loans, and budget support to facilitate swift disbursement of ADB funds,” Asakawa said in a call with Sitharaman, according to a statement by ADB.
Weakening global economic growth is causing disruptions in India’s trade and manufacturing supply chains, along with the slowdown in tourism and other economic activities. This is straining a large number of micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises, and the livelihood of formal and informal labourers across the country, ADB said. Asakawa said the policy measures announced by the government will provide much-needed relief and stimulus to the most vulnerable people as well as businesses, and become a basis for faster recovery.
The Centre had announced a national health emergency programme, tax compliance and other relief measures provided to businesses, as well as a Rs 1.7 lakh crore economic relief package on March 26 to provide immediate income and consumption support to the poor, women, and workers affected by the three-week nationwide lockdown.
Last week, banks started depositing Rs 500 per month into Jan Dhan accounts of each of the women beneficiaries under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana. A total of 20.40 crore women account holders are expected to benefit from the government’s plan to provide three monthly instalments of Rs 500 each. The Centre would spend Rs 31,000 crore for this purpose.
On March 18, ADB announced an initial package of approximately $6.5 billion to address the immediate needs of its developing member countries, including India, as they respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Earlier this month, the World Bank said it had approved an initial $1.9 billion in emergency funds for coronavirus response operations in 25 developing countries, with more than half the aid earmarked to help fight COVID-19 in India. It had also said it was working to redeploy resources in existing financed projects worth up to $1.7 billion.
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