Govt seeks immediate ADB assistance

Kathmandu, April 29

The Nepal government has requested Asian Development Bank (ADB) to provide immediate assistance amounting to $250 million.

The request was made during a discussion held between ADB President Masatsugu Asakawa and Finance Minister Yubaraj Khatiwada today on ADB’s support to Nepal in its fight against the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Asakawa commended the government’s decisive actions to control the spread of the virus and manage its impact on public health and the national economy, particularly through the government’s $1.26 billion comprehensive National Relief Programme.

Nepal’s response aims at strengthening the medical system capacity, lessening the economic strain on individuals, especially the poor and vulnerable, and supporting businesses, which have been severely affected by the economic slowdown.

“ADB is committed to supporting the government’s needs in these most challenging times,” Asakawa has been quoted in a media release as saying. “We are accelerating the processing of a quick budget support loan with affordable terms and conditions to respond to the government’s request for assistance in strengthening the health system and mitigating the economic and social impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Thanking ADB for its support, Khatiwada reiterated the government’s strong commitment to carry out immediate containment measures, social protection for the poor and vulnerable, and economic support for the affected sectors of the economy. The pandemic is causing disruptions in industry and services in Nepal. Tourism, remittance inflows, as well as domestic trade and transportation have been hit hard.

ADB has a strong track record of responding rapidly to support Nepal in times of emergencies and has already provided a $300,000 grant to procure medical supplies, in close collaboration with UNICEF. This grant will finance urgently needed and critical personal protective equipment to enable medical personnel to safely treat infected patients.

Additional grant resources are being explored for expanding supply of essential medical goods to combat the outbreak.

In close collaboration with other development partners, ADB is accelerating its efforts in providing further support to Nepal from the expanded COVID-19 response package of $20 billion announced on April 13, with approved measures to streamline its operations for quicker and more flexible delivery of assistance, the release adds.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on April 30, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.