Countries face different levels of risk and vulnerability to COVID-19, and will require different levels of support. World Bank support will prioritize the poorest countries and those at high risk with low capacity. Lee Kok Leong, executive editor, Maritime Fairtrade, reports
As COVID-19 reaches more than 60 countries, World Bank is making available an initial package of up to US$12 billion in immediate support to assist countries coping with the health and economic impacts of the global outbreak. This financing is designed to help member countries take effective action to respond to and, where possible, lessen the tragic impacts posed by COVID-19.
Through this new fast track package, World Bank will help developing countries strengthen health systems, including 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. The financial package, with financing drawn from across IDA, IBRD and IFC, will be globally coordinated to support country-based responses. The Bank will also provide policy and technical advice to ensure countries can access global expertise.
“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.”
The financial 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. IFC, World Bank’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. IFC 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. These solutions will leverage the lessons learned from similar events in the past with a goal to minimize the negative economic and social impacts of COVID-19 globally.