ADB President, Mustafa Kamal discuss support for Covid-19 response

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Asakawa appreciated the government’s decisive efforts to control the spread of the disease and manage its impact on health, welfare, and the economy

Asian Development Bank (ADB) President Masatsugu Asakawa and Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal on Monday discussed ADB’s support to Bangladesh in its fight against the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Asakawa appreciated the government’s decisive efforts to control the spread of the disease and manage its impact on health, welfare, and the economy, says a press release.

These efforts include the recent incentives and stimulus package of $11.3 billion for widening social safety net coverage, salary support to workers at export-oriented industries, low-interest loans to affected industries and farmers, and increasing monetary supply.

“As a trusted and long-standing development partner, ADB is committed to supporting Bangladesh as it addresses the significant challenges presented by Covid-19,” said Asakawa. 

“We are working hard to respond to the government’s request of $600 million for emergency assistance to help it effectively implement its response measures.”

The widespread economic slowdown caused by the pandemic is disrupting Bangladesh’s export and manufacturing supply chains, as well as other economic activities, adds he release. 

This is straining the large number of readymade (RMG) garment industries; micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises; and the livelihood of formal and informal laborers across the country.

During the discussion, Kamal reiterated his government’s strong commitment to implement the recently announced incentives and stimulus packages to support vulnerable groups, says the release.

ADB has a strong track record of responding rapidly to provide targeted support to Bangladesh in times of emergencies. 

In response to the pandemic, ADB has already provided immediate support, including a $350,000 emergency grant for procurement of medical supplies and equipment, and $1.3 million from an existing project to provide one-time cash support to 22,619 trainees to enable them to continue their ongoing skills training program, the media statement adds.

Additional grant assistance is also being explored to support the purchase of urgently needed medical supplies.

On 13 April, ADB tripled the size of its initial response to Covid-19 to $20 billion and approved measures to streamline its operations for quicker and more flexible delivery of assistance to help its developing member countries counter the severe macroeconomic and health impacts caused by the pandemic. 

ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region, it says further.