World Bank increases coronavirus response fund to US$14 bil

WASHINGTON: The World Bank on Tuesday said it had increased to US$14 billion the amount of fast-track financing available to members to respond to the global coronavirus pandemic, adding US$2 billion to an initial package announced on March 3.

The change will give the World Bank’s International Financing Corp a total of US$8 billion to support private companies and their employees hurt by economic impacts of the virus, the bank said.

It said the bulk of the funding would be used by client financial institutions so they can continue to offer trade financing, working capital and medium-term financing to private firms struggling with disruptions in supply chains.

IFC said the funding would also help existing clients in tourism, manufacturing and other heavily affected sectors keep paying their bills, while aiding the healthcare industry as it races to meet surging demand for services, equipment and drugs.

World Bank President David Malpass said the bank was committed to provide a fast and flexible response based on the needs of developing countries.

“It’s essential that we shorten the time to recovery,” Malpass said.

“Support operations are already underway, and the expanded funding tools approved today will help sustain economies, companies and jobs.”

More than 187,700 people have been infected by the coronavirus in 162 countries, and 7,495 have died, according to a Reuters tally.

IFC Chief Executive Officer Philippe Le Houerou said the institution’s goal was to help clients sustain their operations during the current health emergency phase so they could help economies recover more quickly later.

The Bank said the boards of directors of the World Bank and the IFC on Tuesday responded to requests from clients and approved the addition of US$2 billion in new funding on top of US$6 billion made available through other IFC instruments.

The new component offers funding from the IFC’s Global Trade Liquidity Program and its Critical Commodities Finance Program, both of which provide support to local banks so they can continue to finance companies in emerging markets.

IFC is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets and works with 2,000 business worldwide. In fiscal 2019, it delivered more than US$19 billion in long-term financing for developing countries.

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