From Krishnan Nayar
NEW DELHI, 6th July, 2020 (WAM) — The World Bank has committed $2.75 billion to support India’s emergency COVID-19 response since the pandemic began earlier this year, the Bank and the Indian government jointly announced here today.
The occasion for the announcement was provided by the signing today of a $750 million loan agreement for a Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises, MSMEs, Emergency Response Programme to support the increased flow of finance into the hands of such enterprises in India which have been severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The international financial institution offered its first $1 billion emergency support to India in April this year for its health sector. Another $1 billion was approved in May to increase cash transfers and food benefits to the poor and vulnerable, the Ministry of Finance said at today’s signing ceremony.
Today’s agreement was signed between Sameer Kumar Khare, Additional Secretary in the Department of Economic Affairs of the Government of India and Junaid Ahmad, Country Director for India at the World Bank.
“The World Bank’s MSME Emergency Response Programme will address the immediate liquidity and credit needs of some 1.5 million viable MSMEs in India to help them withstand the impact of the current shock and protect millions of jobs,” according to a press release.
Ahmad said the MSME sector is central to India’s growth and job creation and will be key to the pace of India’s economic recovery, post COVID-19. The $750 million loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, IBRD, has a maturity of 19 years including a five-year grace period.
The agreement came on a day when the Indian government announced that the number of COVID-19 tests has crossed a 10 million milestone. “During the last 24 hours 346,459 samples have been tested. The cumulative number of samples tested, as of now is 10,135,525,” according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
India reported 24,850 new COVID-19 infections in the previous 24 hours taking the total cases to 673,165. There have 19,268 deaths so far and 409,083 recoveries leaving 244,814 active cases, the Health Ministry said.
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