$2bn FTF for shoestring govts

Kathmandu, December 11:

The World Bank Group yesterday announced the creation of a $2 billion fast-track facility (FTF) to speed up grants and long-term, interest-free loans to help the world’s poorest countries cope with the impact of the global financial crisis.

The International Development Association (IDA) Financial Crisis Response Fast-Track Facility, approved on Tuesday by the World Bank’s board of executive directors, will allow rapid funding for social safety nets, infrastructure, education, and health.

“In view of our Global Economic Prospects report, we want to help countries manage the downturn with rapid financing to help minimize its impacts and assist them in designing supportive policies,” said World Bank Group president Robert B Zoellick.

The facility would fast-track an initial $2 billion of the $42 billion of IDA15 resources available to 78 of the world’s poorest countries over the coming three years.

The facility will foster rapid World Bank response to the pressing needs of IDA countries based on more swift World Bank analysis of those needs. It will finance expenditures needed to maintain economic stability and sustain growth, address volatility, and protect the poor. Operational responses will include funding budget expenditures in infrastructure services, education, and health and social safety nets.