MANILA, April 24 (Xinhua) -- The Philippines and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) signed on Thursday a loan agreement that would enable the government to access up to 1.5 billion U.S. dollars in budgetary support from the multilateral institution to augment funds for its stepped-up efforts against COVID-19.
The loan for the COVID-19 Active Response and Expenditure Support (CARES) program of the Philippine government covered by this agreement is under the ADB's Countercyclical Support Facility Pandemic Response Option (CPRO).
This is a quick-disbursing budget-support facility to aid countries like the Philippines in mitigating the severe economic shocks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and bankrolling measures to prevent the further spread of the highly contagious virus.
Philippine Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said the agreement for the CARES loan is part of the national government's external financing program this year to help fund the necessary programs to defeat COVID-19 and bridge the higher deficit requirement estimated at 990.1 billion pesos (around 19.5 billion U.S. dollars) brought about by the pandemic's economic fallout.
Under the terms and conditions of the CARES loan, the first 500 million U.S. dollars that the Philippines can tap from the ADB's CPRO facility will be disbursed in U.S. dollars amounting to 250 million U.S. dollars, and the Euro equivalent of the other half of the amount.
This portion of the loan is payable in 10 years inclusive of a three-year grace period.
The remaining 1 billion U.S. dollars will also be divided equally into the U.S. dollar and Euro equivalents of the amount under the terms of the loan accord. This amount is payable in five years inclusive of a three-year grace period.
The disbursement of the first 1 billion U.S. dollars tranche is expected this month while the remaining 500 million U.S. dollars may be disbursed on or before June 20.
The ADB was among the first multilateral development institutions to provide assistance to the Philippines' COVID-19 response efforts with its delivery of a 3 million U.S. dollars grant for the government's purchase of medical supplies for health workers.
It has also approved an emergency grant of 5 million U.S. dollars for the Philippines to leverage private-sector donations for a food distribution program that has benefited 55,000 poor households in Metro Manila and neighboring areas.
The Philippines now has 6,981 confirmed COVID-19 cases, including 462 deaths and 722 recoveries.