ADB pledges $100m for COVID-19 response in Kabul

KABUL (Tolo News): Asian Development Bank (ADB) has pledged $100 million to Afghanistan to overcome the financial impacts of COVID-19 on small and mid-size enterprises. According to data by the Public Health Ministry, 108,193 samples have been tested in government centers and there are 4,906 known active COVID-19 cases in the country. The national lockdown that ended in May affected many businesses in the country, according to government officials.

“We understand that the economic impacts of COVID-19 pandemic will be widespread. To counter these challenges, ADB is preparing a countercyclical support facility of 100 million dollars under its COVID-19 Active Response and Expenditures Support Program,” said Narendra Singru, ADB’s Country Director for Afghanistan. “Given the extensive development needs in Afghanistan, ADB remains committed to supporting Afghanistan’s agenda to eradicate poverty and to transform the country into a self-reliant and productive economy.”

Back in May, the World Bank Board approved a $400 million grant to help Afghanistan “sustain the pace of key economic and public finance reforms, and support the country to manage current risks and uncertainties compounded by the COVID-19 crisis,” according to statement by the organization.

Afghan business community said that at least 30 percent of small businesses with an investment of Afs100,000 ($1,300) to Afs300,000 ($3,900) were totally damaged. “Businessmen need help in terms of tax relief and electricity,” said Noorulhaq Omari, deputy head of Merchants Association.

The Ministry of Economy said a plan has been outlined to help investors overcome the impacts of COVID-19 lockdown. But, according to the ministry, the plan needs to be approved by High Economic Council led by President Ashraf Ghani. “It encompasses a $560 million support package… For instance, loans will be provided to investors,” said Suhrab Bahman, a spokesman for Ministry of Economy.

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