Asian Development Bank President Masatsugu Asakawa on Friday assured India’s Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman that the bank will grant support of $2.2 billion (around Rs 16,716 crore) to India to help combat the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, PTI reported.
Asakawa, in a phone call to Sitharaman, commended the Indian government’s response to the pandemic, including a national health emergency programme, tax and other relief measures provided to businesses and a relief package of Rs 1.7 lakh crore for the poor. “ADB is committed to supporting India’s emergency needs,” Asakawa said. “We are now preparing $2.2 billion in immediate assistance to the health sector and to help alleviate the economic impact of the pandemic on the poor; informal workers; micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises; and the financial sector.”
Asakawa said that the Asian Development Bank will increase assistance to India if required. “We will consider all financing options available with us to meet India’s needs, including emergency assistance, policy-based loans, and budget support to facilitate swift disbursement of ADB funds,” he said.
India imposed a 21-day nationwide lockdown starting March 25 to combat the pandemic, resulting in economic activity grinding to a halt. On March 18, the Asian Development Bank had announced an initial package of approximately $6.5 billion (Rs 49,387 crore) to address the immediate needs of its developing member countries, including India.
Last week, the Asian Development Bank slashed its forecast for India for the financial year of 2020-’21, saying it is likely to slow down to 4% amid the global economic meltdown triggered by the coronavirus pandemic. However, United States-based multinational investment bank Goldman Sachs predicted a growth rate of just 1.6%, and credit rating agency Moody’s 2.5%.
India has so far reported 6,412 cases of the coronavirus, including 199 deaths and 503 recoveries, according to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.