The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $250 million loan to help the Government of Myanmar respond to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic by mitigating the impacts on people’s health, livelihoods, and the economy, while also ensuring that the poor and vulnerable benefit from the country’s economic recovery, according to a statement.
“ADB is committed to supporting Myanmar as it responds to the pandemic, improves its health services, and prepares for recovery from the damaging economic impacts,” said ADB President Masatsugu Asakawa. “ADB’s quick-disbursing budget support will help the government provide social assistance to the poor, disadvantaged, and vulnerable groups, including those in conflict-affected areas; strengthen its health care system to better prevent and control the virus; and support workers and micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises, 30% of which are owned by women.”
Despite a limited number of confirmed cases, Myanmar remains vulnerable to COVID-19, due to its limited public health system, a mobile population, crowded living conditions in urban centers, and limited water and sanitation infrastructure.
In April, the government announced a $2.5 billion stimulus package to boost the health care system, extend cash support to 5.5 million vulnerable families and provide tax relief, tax credits, and other measures to businesses and workers.
ADB’s COVID-19 Active Response and Expenditure Support (CARES) Program is funded through the COVID-19 pandemic response option (CPRO) under ADB’s Countercyclical Support Facility. CPRO was established as part of ADB’s $20 billion expanded assistance for developing member countries’ pandemic response, which was announced on 13 April.
The CARES Program, ADB’s first countercyclical support for Myanmar, builds on ADB’s ongoing program in the country, including a $6.6 million health security project that ADB reprogrammed in April to support Myanmar’s early COVID-19 response. An additional financing of $30 million is being considered to help implement the government’s contingency plan for the health sector, including isolating suspected cases at designated hospitals, conducting contact tracing, and the purchasing of test kits, ventilators, and personal protective equipment.
The CARES Program, which was developed in coordination with other development partners, is aligned with ADB’s 2017–2021 country partnership strategy and complements ongoing health, social assistance, and job-creating local infrastructure projects. With technical advice and knowledge support, ADB serves as a catalyst for development coordination and financing in Myanmar.