World Bank boosts Covid-19 response funding to US$14 bln

The World Bank Group on Tuesday announced an increased 14 billion U.S. dollars of fast-tracking financing to assist companies and countries in the wake of 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, the World Bank said in a statement.

“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 additional 2-billion-dollar funding came from the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the World Bank’s lender to the private sector, which boosted its COVID-19 related financing availability to 8 billion dollars.

Earlier this month, the multilateral lender announced that it is making available an initial package of up to 12 billion U.S. dollars in immediate support to assist countries affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.

The original response package included 6 billion dollars in financing by the World Bank to strengthen health systems and disease surveillance and 6 billion dollars by IFC to help provide a lifeline for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, according to the World Bank.

“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 Houerou, Chief Executive Officer of IFC.

The World Bank’s stepped-up support came as the COVID-19 continues to spread across the globe. More than 196,000 cases have been confirmed worldwide so far, with over 7,800 death reported, according to a tracking tool developed by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.