DOF: WB releasing $100M to PH for COVID-19 fight ‘in matter of weeks’

The World Bank (WB) has committed to release to the Philippines “in a matter of weeks” at least $100 million in loan to help the Department of Health (DOH) better respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Department of Finance (DOF) on Wednesday (March 18).

The financing, to come from WB’s COVID-19 facility, would be spent on personal protective equipment for health care workers, testing and lab materials, quarantine areas, isolation rooms “and other essential equipment to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the country,” the DOF said in a statement.

The WB financing came after a meeting last week between a DOF team, led by Finance Undersecretary Mark Dennis Y.C. Joven and Achim Fock, WB acting country director for Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand.

The DOF said the World Bank, on advice of Joven, consulted the DOH to know if financing under the COVID-19 facility would be responsive to immediate needs in fighting the pandemic.


Fock wrote Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on March 17, telling the DOH that WB “would take every step to make procurement as fast as possible.”

The letter said WB fully appreciates “that rapid response in health emergencies is key to limiting the spread of COVID-19 and providing care to those affected.”

The DOF quoted Fock as telling Duque that the WB office in Manila was “ready with a team of procurement specialists who would be on hand to assist the DOH in acquiring the materials and equipment it needs to fight COVID-19.”

“We recognize that some goods and equipment are currently not available and stand ready to support you in sourcing them as quickly as possible,” the DOF quoted Fock as telling Duque.

Under the WB’s COVID-19 fast-track facility, the Philippines was qualified for a $100 million loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) with regular terms and a waiver of the first year of fees, the DOF said.

The Philippines, being a member of IBRD, was also qualified to get additional funding assistance “within its normal exposure limits.”

On March 17, the World Bank said it increased its fast-track financing package for COVID-19 to $14 billion from $12 billion previously.

“The package will strengthen national systems for public health preparedness,” WB said in a statement. This included “disease containment and treatment.”

Bulk of financing will to to financial institutions which are expected to continue servicing working capital needs and medium-term financing needed by private firms.

WB said it was “essential that we shorten the time to recovery” of companies hit by COVID-19.

“Not only is this pandemic costing lives but its impact on economies and living standards will likely outlive the health emergency phase,” said Philippe Le Houerou, chief executive of International Finance Corp. of WB.

Edited by TSB

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