(March 3, PND by Candid) The World Bank Group has announced that it is fast-tracking up to $12 billion in immediate financing for countries struggling to cope with the health and economic impacts of the global coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
Two-thirds of the initial package, some $8 billion, is new financing, including $2.7 billion from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD). The total also includes $1.3 billion from the International Development Association (IDA) — complemented by repatriation of $2 billion of the bank's existing portfolio — and $6 billion from the International Finance Corporation (IFC), including $2 billion from existing trade facilities, to fund country-based responses to the epidemic in developing countries. With the goal of strengthening national health systems, IDA will provide grants and low-interest loans to low-income countries, while IBRD will make loans to middle-income countries, in support of efforts to safeguard people from the virus, strengthen disease surveillance, bolster public health interventions, and work with the private sector to reduce the impact of the virus on local, regional, and national economies.
IFC also will work with commercial bank clients to expand trade finance and working capital lines while directly supporting corporate clients' efforts to maintain supply chains and limit downside risk, with a particular focus on medical equipment and pharmaceuticals.
"We are working to provide a fast, flexible response based on developing country needs in dealing with the spread of COVID-19," said World Bank Group president David Malpass. "This includes emergency financing, policy advice, and technical assistance building on the World Bank Group's existing instruments and expertise to help countries respond to the crisis."