10:04 | 19/03/2020 Global Economy
The World Bank and IFC’s Boards of Directors on March 17 approved an increased US$14 billion package of fast-track financing to assist companies and countries in their efforts to prevent, detect and respond to the rapid spread of COVID-19.
The package will strengthen national systems for public health preparedness, including for disease containment, diagnosis, and treatment, and support the private sector.
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, will increase its COVID-19 related financing availability to US$8 billion as part of the US$14 billion package, up from an earlier US$6 billion, to support private companies and their employees hurt by the economic downturn caused by the spread of COVID-19.
The bulk of the IFC financing will go to client financial institutions to enable them to continue to offer trade financing, working-capital support and medium-term financing to private companies struggling with disruptions in supply chains. IFC’s response will also help existing clients in economic sectors directly affected by the pandemic--such as tourism and manufacturing—to continue to pay their bills. The package will also benefit sectors involved in responding to the pandemic, including healthcare and related industries, which face increased demand for services, medical equipment and pharmaceuticals.
“It’s essential that we shorten the time to recovery. This package provides urgent support to businesses and their workers to reduce the financial and economic impact of the spread of COVID-19,” said David Malpass, president of the World Bank Group. “The World Bank Group is committed to a fast, flexible response based on the needs of developing countries. Support operations are already underway, and the expanded funding tools approved today will help sustain economies, companies and jobs.”
The additional US$2 billion builds on the announcement of the original response package on March 3, which included US$6 billion in financing by the World Bank to strengthen health systems and disease surveillance and US$6 billion by IFC to help provide a lifeline for micro, small and medium sized enterprises, which are more vulnerable to economic shocks.
“Not only is this pandemic costing lives, but its impact on economies and living standards will likely outlive the health emergency phase. By ensuring our clients sustain their operations during this time, we hope the private sector in the developing world will be better equipped to help economies recover more quickly,” said Philippe Le Houérou, Chief Executive Officer of IFC. “In turn, this will help vulnerable groups to more quickly recover their livelihoods and continue to invest in the future.”
Having mobilized quickly at the time of the 2008 global financial crisis and the Western African Ebola virus epidemic, IFC has a successful track record of implementing response initiatives to address global and regional crises hampering private-sector activity and economic growth in developing countries.