WASHINGTON, USA – The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has made available to the countries of Central America and the Dominican Republic nearly US$1.7 billion in additional funding for 2020 to confront the COVID-19 pandemic.
Through new programs to tackle the crisis and changes to the 2020 loan program, the IDB is now dedicating US$2.8 billion to tackle the public health crisis and its economic ravages. The initiative features four components: the immediate public health response, aid to vulnerable people most in need, assistance for companies and their employees to minimize losses, and support for fiscal policy.
In Panama, a total of US$8.75 million (which can be raised to US$20 million) was made available to the government to redirect toward the purchase of equipment, hiring services and improvement of health care response capability in indigenous areas. Panamanian authorities have also asked for US$300 million to boost production with financing of micro, small and medium-sized companies, and farmers. Another US$400 million will go to help government finances.
In Honduras, the government has requested a shift in US$50 million from four already approved loans to aim at the development and implementation of a new health project. This plan designed to contain and confront the coronavirus features efforts to limit the spread of the pathogen, hire health-care staff and buy medical equipment, implement innovative technologies like telemedicine and tele-assistance, and encourage people to take care of their health.
For El Salvador, the IDB has authorized the disbursement of US$15.4 million (which can be raised to $20 million if needed) to buy equipment such as ventilators, masks, protective gowns, and monitors, among other gear. Two other projects are in the works: a US$250 million emergency program designed to promote macroeconomic and fiscal sustainability and a US$250 million plan to boost public policy and fiscal management to address the country’s health and economic crisis. Both aim to support the country’s budget and provide liquidity to help it confront the crisis.
Regarding technical cooperation resources (non-reimbursable funds), the IDB has already redirected funds in Belize for the purchase of test kits and the implementation of a social marketing strategy, encouraging people to wash their hands frequently and engage in other healthy personal hygiene practices.
As another way to help these countries, the IDB is working to streamline tax procedures and on ways to help supply meet demand. The IDB’s priority is to offer an immediate response to address the health-care, economic and social impacts triggered by the COVID-19. For this reason, it stays in frequent contact with its country offices to offer technical and financial support.
The IDB’s moves follow technical health-care guidelines that were issued by the World Health Organization and approved by multilateral development banks and international organizations that are active in the region. The IDB is also working at the regional level to support and coordinate with agencies such as the Council of Ministers of Central America and the Dominican Republic (COMISCA).