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The World Bank Group headquarters buildings in Washington, D.C. (Photo: AgnosticPreachersKid via Wikimedia Commons)

World Bank readies $12-B COVID-19 fund

The World Bank is making available $12 billion worth of immediate support for countries in combating COVID-19. 

The Philippines is in talks with donors for a planned loan package for the COVID-19 outbreak. 

The World Bank said the fast-track financing is designed to help member-countries take effective action to respond to and, where possible, lessen the tragic impacts posed by COVID-19. 

The funds will be used to strengthen health systems, provide better access to health services to safeguard people from the epidemic, strengthen disease surveillance, bolster public health interventions and work with the private sector to reduce the impact on economies. 

Meanwhile, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said in a Viber message to reporters, “We are currently in discussions…on a loan package with multilateral agencies, and this announcement of WB [World Bank] is certainly welcome.” 

Aside from the coronavirus outbreak, Dominguez said the planned loan package could also be used for “similar events.” 

Dominguez said they are “preparing the appropriate fiscal responses” to cushion the economic impact of the outbreak. 

Dominguez said the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) is already evaluating various alternatives and will pursue the appropriate measures to protect the economy.

The World Bank said the support package will make available initial crisis resources of up to $12 billion in financing—$8 billion of which is new—on a fast-track basis. 

The largest chunk of the amount will come from the International Finance Corp. (IFC) worth $6 billion. This includes $2 billion that will be obtained from existing trade facilities. 

The rest of the package will come from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) worth $2.7 billion; funding from the Bank’s existing portfolio, $2 billion; and $1.3 billion from the International Development Association (IDA). 

The package will provide grants and low-interest loans from IDA for low-income countries and loans from IBRD for middle-income countries, using all of the bank’s operational instruments with processing accelerated on a fast-track basis. 

The IFC, the World Bank Group’s private-sector arm, will provide its clients with the necessary support to continue operating and to sustain jobs. 

IFC will work with commercial bank clients to expand trade finance and working capital lines. It will also directly support its corporate clients—with a focus on strategic sectors including medical equipment and pharmaceuticals—to sustain supply chains and limit downside risks. 

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