Passengers wearing masks queue to enter the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Paranaque, Metro Manila, amid fears of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) spreading in Philippines, March 18, 2020. (Photo: Agencies)
MANILA - The Philippines and the World Bank signed a $500-million loan agreement that would enable the Philippines to augment the government's urgent financing requirements to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Finance (DOF) of the Philippines announced on Wednesday.
The Third Risk Management Development Policy Loan, following two earlier loans signed in 2012 and 2015 between the Philippines and the World Bank, aims to strengthen the country's capacity to prepare for, respond to, and recover from natural disasters, including health emergencies like the COVID-19 crisis.
Philippine Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said this third budget-support loan is programmed for accelerated disbursement by April 30 to help support the immediate financing requirements of the government resulting from the impact of the COVID-19-induced crisis.
He said the $500-million facility, which is just one of several financial assistance programs made available to the Philippines by the World Bank during this global health crisis, will bolster the Philippines' overall efforts to provide instant relief to the poor and other hardest-hit sectors and strengthen the healthcare system.
The loan is payable in 29 years, inclusive of a 10-and-a-half-year grace period.
According to the World Bank, the loan will support policy reforms undertaken by the Philippine government in the area of disaster risk management, including the implementation of an emergency cash transfer program during times of crisis.
On top of this financing package, the World Bank has also earmarked a 100-million-U.S. dollar fast-track loan to the Philippines to enable the Department of Health to procure personal protective equipment for frontline medical workers, along with testing and laboratory materials, quarantine areas, isolation rooms and other essential equipment to fight COVID-19.
The loan is under the World Bank's recently launched $14-billion fast-track COVID-19 facility.