Pakistan hails global support for Covid response plan

Govt says international development partners back its allocations and use of resources


​ Our Correspondent April 27, 2020
PHOTO: EXPRESS

ISLAMABAD: The government on Monday appreciated the continued support it had received from the international community, including development partners, to provide emergency medical response to and mitigate the socio-economic disruption caused by Covid-19 crisis.

The government launched the Pandemic Preparedness and Response Plan on April 23, where development partners committed their financial and technical support, including grant and concessional financing, said a press released issued here on Monday.

In this regard, a high-level meeting at economic affairs division (EAD) with Economic Affairs Minister Khusro Bakhtiar in the chair, was informed that till-date more than 1.8 million medical and protection equipment had been delivered around the country.

The meeting was attended by the European Union ambassador, Pakistan country directors of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the World bank, the resident coordinator of the United Nations (UNRC) and the representative of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB).

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The press release said that among the major development partners the World Bank had provided initial support of $240 million in new financing and repurposed the existing financing to support Pakistan’s urgent health response, social safety nets, distance learning and food security.

“The World Bank is also ramping up its support to provide over $2 billion in new financing and up to $1 billion in repurposing of existing funds, including $130 million in grant funding, over the next 15-months. These funds will support Pakistan’s strong and quick recovery from Covid-19 crisis,” the release added.

“An important part of the efforts will focus around prioritising resources to restore employment and livelihoods for the portion of the population worst-affected by the crisis, like the labourers and daily-wage earners, through an ambitious public works programme.”

The release said the ADB had also extended grant assistance worth $2.5 million and repurposed $50 million from the National Disaster Risk Management Fund (NDRMF) for Pakistan which were being utilised to respond to Covid-19 pandemic and health needs at the national and provincial levels.

It added that a $500 million worth countercyclical support facility and $300 million as emergency assistance lending (EAL) to respond to Covid-19 were also under process of approval by the ADB board within this financial year.

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“In addition, a pipeline of $900 million in policy-based lending for reforms in the capital markets, trade and competitiveness and energy sector, to be approved by the ADB board before the end of 2020, is also under discussion,” the press release said.

Among other supporters, the IMF had already disbursed $1.386 billion under its Rapid Financing Instrument, while there were commitments of $12.545 million from the EU and financing support from the IDB of $500 million in oil financing and $150 million for mitigating Covid-19 impact, it said.

“The UN has provided technical training of medical staff. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have also assisted the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and the planning ministry in preparation of Pakistan’s pandemic response plan.”

Other development partners, including the UK Department for International Development, United States Agency for International Development, China and Japan have also each reached out to the government with assistance to supplement Pakistan’s efforts in tackling the health, financial and economic fallout of the Covid-19 crisis.

The press release said that the UN resident coordinator had invited Pakistan to join WHO’s Covid-19 partners web-based platform for collaborating on the pandemic response. “This demonstrates the government of Pakistan’s strong partnership with the international development partners and illustrates their support for the government’s allocation and use of resources,” it concluded.

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