March 23: The World Bank’s executive board is expected to consider later this week the first fast-track funds to help Afghanistan and Ethiopia respond to the coronavirus pandemic, Reuters reported citing the bank’s president on Sunday.
World Bank’s President David Malpass said in a blog post on the bank that funding for the projects could come out of a $14 billion Fast Track Facility (FTF) approved last week (March 17) to help countries deal with the health and economic impact of the coronavirus.
According to the latest tally of Reuters, the respiratory disease has infected more than 337,524 people around the world, and killed at least 14,651.
In the blog, Malpass said World Bank teams were preparing projects in 40 countries for up to $1.7 billion under the FTF at the end of the week.
Projects in Afghanistan and Ethiopia were the most advanced and would be presented to the board this week, he said, adding that meetings for 14 other countries will take place next week as well, and will create a framework for rapid responses in other countries without naming them.
“This approach will allow us to quickly replicate operations in multiple countries,” he said.
In addition to the fast track facility, the World Bank is also providing COVID-19 support via restructuring of the existing projects.
So far, projects in 24 countries for up to $1.5 billion are in the works and span every region where the bank operates..
According to Malpass, the IFC is also working to start extending trade finance and working capital lines to clients, with regular board action expected on those efforts in the next two to four weeks.
Malpass further said World Bank officials were in close touch with finance ministers and central bankers from around the world to discuss their needs and responses to the crisis.
Bank officials had also identified ways to support countries as they race to procure much-needed medical equipment and upgrade medical facilities.