World Bank OK’s another ₱25-B loan for PH pandemic response

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 29) — The World Bank approved a new $500-million (about ₱25 billion) loan to assist the country’s efforts in providing financial assistance to poor households and small and medium enterprises hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

“This new financing can help with the delivery of financial support for struggling families and communities while the country is ramping up efforts to contain the pandemic and reduce its economic impact," said WB Acting Country Director Achim Fock in a statement.

The additional funding will support government efforts to provide cash assistance to some 18 million low-income households amid the COVID-19 crisis, the multilateral lender said.

These households were expected to receive ₱5,000 to ₱8,000 during the first tranche of the government's social amelioration program. Eventually, the government said five million more beneficiaries would be included in the first batch of subsidy.

Earlier this week, Malacañang greenlit the distribution of the second tranche of financial assistance, which will cover some 17 million families.

The WB said its loan shall also cover "additional subsidies in the monthly cash transfers given to 4.3 million beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps); expansion of social assistance to 13.6 million affected households that are not part of the program; and support for repatriated overseas Filipino workers."

Small and medium enterprises are expected to benefit from the fresh funding, in particular on efforts to provide financial relief. Among these is the government's Small Business Wage Subsidy program, which aims to provide a monthly wage subsidy to around 3.4 million employees for two months.

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Other efforts the newly approved loan aims to assist are "additional financial relief through deferrals of tax and social security payments; and a credit guarantee scheme to help ensure continuity of their business operations and the preservation of people’s jobs," the Bank said.

The recent funding brings the World Bank's total loans to the Philippines in support of COVID-19 response to $1.1 billion (around ₱55 billion), with the Washington-based lender having approved a $100 million (about ₱5 billion) loan in March and a $500 million (about ₱25 billion) loan in April.