ADB approves new $200 million loan to support gov't cash aid during COVID-19 crisis

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 27) - An multilateral lender is extending additional assistance to the Philippines amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) approved on Monday a fresh $200 million, about ₱10 billion, loan to assist the government in providing emergency cash aid to vulnerable households during the health crisis.

ADB Country Director Kelly Bird told CNN Philippines the loan is meant to help the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) reach the target 18 million low-income households.

"Specifically though, this loan targets the COVID-19 cash grants to the 3.4 million families under DSWD's conditional cash transfer program or 4Ps," Bird said in an interview with CNN Philippines.

Social Welfare secretary Rolando Bautista said Sunday that government funds for the country's social amelioration program are running low, as the enhanced community quarantine in the national capital and other high risk areas has been extended until May 15.

READ: DSWD Sec. Rolando Bautista says he believes the funds for SAP are running low

The new loan is an addition to the $1.5 billion, about ₱76 billion, loan from the ADB announced on Friday.

Bird said the $1.5 billion is budget support, meaning it will go to the National Treasury and can be used to finance the national government budget, including fiscal stimulus programs.

"It's not earmarked for any particular program but COVID-19 response is included," Bird said.

Majority of the amount, $1 billion, about ₱50 billion, will be released before end-April, while the rest will be remitted to authorities between now and June 20, the Department of Finance said.

READ: ADB extends ₱76-B loan to boost local COVID-19 fight

When asked how the ADB will monitor how the loans are spent, Bird cited their confidence given the government's financial management system and monitoring system in place.

"We're very confident that these will be well targeted programs," Bird said.

Bird also said that their pre-COVID-19 program with the Philippines will continue.

"That's $3 billion, so we are continuing to prepare those programs and projects and they remain on track for approval this year," Kelly said.

"We're also looking at a health sector project around $100 million to scale up the government's health response," he added.