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World Bank approves USD 400 mn loan to help Afghanistan deal with COVID-19 crisis

Kabul

The World Bank on Friday approved a USD 400 million grant to help Afghanistan “sustain the pace of key economic and public finance reforms and support the country to manage current risks and uncertainties compounded by the COVID-19 crisis.”

“The Incentive Program Development Policy Grant comprises USD 160 million from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank Group’s fund for the poorest countries and USD240 million from the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF), managed by the World Bank on behalf of 34 donors,” the bank said in a statement cited by Tolo News.

The Incentive Program Development Policy Grant will support a range of key reforms to improve business regulation and encourage private investment, expand social inclusion and support civil service reforms, increase resilience to natural disasters, improve tax administration and public financial management, and safeguard fiscal sustainability, the statement read.

“Today’s board approval is a strong indication that the World Bank is redoubling its efforts to help Afghanistan and its people beyond the current COVID-19 crisis,” said Henry Kerali, World Bank Country Director for Afghanistan.

“This assistance will help Afghanistan maintain its reform momentum throughout a difficult period and provide vital financial support to the government to manage revenue shortfalls arising from coronavirus impacts,” Kerali added.

The pandemic has had an immediate negative impact on Afghanistan. Border closures have severely impacted government customs receipts, while measures to contain the spread of the virus are likely to have a strong negative impact on economic activity. Poverty remains deep and widespread, while security and political uncertainties continue, said the statement.

The Ministry of Public Health on Thursday informed that 171 positive cases have been recorded across Afghanistan in the past 24 hours, which brought the countrywide tally to 3,563.

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