he Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $100 million loan to help the Government of Georgia contain the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, mitigate the impact on businesses, and protect the livelihoods of the most vulnerable, including women and children.
The Asian Development Bank released information about it.
“As a major trade and tourism hub, COVID-19 poses a grave threat to the health and economic wellbeing of Georgia,” said ADB President Masatsugu Asakawa. “We are fully committed to supporting Georgia’s response and this comprehensive package will help address the country’s immediate health and socioeconomic needs. It builds on more than a decade of cooperation between ADB and Georgia in fiscal management and social protection—which are key to the economy’s post-pandemic recovery.”
ADB notes that Georgia began to introduce containment measures in January to shield its vulnerable public health system, but the pandemic has significantly impacted the economy. Travel restrictions hit the tourism sector, which recorded an almost 60% year-on-year decline in international visits in March.
“The COVID-19 Active Response and Expenditure Support (CARES) Program will provide budget support to the government and help fund its comprehensive anti-crisis plan. This includes tax deferments for more than 4,000 small and medium-sized tourism businesses and subsidized loan repayments for at least 2,000 small and medium-sized hotels.
The loan will protect the vulnerable by helping to fund the government’s social assistance measures. These include temporary payments for up to 350,000 formal-sector workers who could lose their jobs as a result of the pandemic; one-off payments for up to 250,000 informal or self-employed workers; subsidized utility bills for 1.2 million families; and a six-month price freeze on nine key food products.
To help contain the spread of the disease, the loan will help to fund free access to COVID-19 diagnostic and treatment services including for the poor, for whom out-of-pocket health expenses are particularly burdensome. A dedicated COVID-19 website is publishing the government’s public recommendations, including specific protocols for pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding” – reads the statement released by ADB.
According to the Asian Development Bank, COVID-19 particularly threatens Georgian women, who make up around 60% of both tourism and frontline medical workers. ADB’s loan will help provide personal protective equipment to frontline female medical workers and expand cash assistance to disabled women and children. Of the 6,000 tourism and hotel businesses supported through the government’s tax and loan subsidy scheme, more than one-third are owned or managed by women.
ADB’s CARES package was developed in close coordination with the International Monetary Fund and other development partners as part of a coordinated effort to help Georgia tackle the COVID-19 crisis.
The loan 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’ COVID-19 response, announced on 13 April.
ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region” – reads the statement released by ADB.