The ADB has given substantial monetary grants to both Tonga and Samoa to help upgrade health facilities.
It was reported today, Monday, by Radio New Zealand that Tonga and Samoa have received boosts to their Covid-19 responses from the Asian Development Bank.
Here are the details, quote:
“Tonga has been boosted with a $US6 million grant from the bank and Samoa has received a $US2.9 million grant.
“The Tonga government said the assistance would help upgrade Tongan healthcare facilities.
“It is also to fund logistics to lock down the country's border and provide relief for the elderly, unemployed and vulnerable businesses such as tourism, retail, agriculture, and transport.
"The $6 million grant will help take undue pressure off Tonga's health systems," said ADB Director General for the Pacific, Leah Gutierrez. "This quick-disbursing financing will allow Tonga to respond rapidly to the challenges of the pandemic and help mitigate negative impacts on vulnerable sectors."
“The kingdom has no confirmed cases of the virus but declared a State of Emergency on 20 March and extended its border closure to 12 June.
“Some exceptions on border entry have been made for repatriation and humanitarian flights. Government services are back, and schools are open although an 8pm to 6am curfew remains.
“The government said the public health emergency put pressure on the kingdom's health systems and the economy and launched a $T60 million stimulus budget.
“The bank said the grant is phase two of its Pacific Disaster Resilience Program.
“Earlier this month, the ADB released a $US470, 000 grant from its Asia Pacific Disaster Response Fund to help finance Tonga's response to the pandemic.
“The [embed https://www.adb.org/publications/asian-development-outlook-2020-innovation-asia Asian Development Outlook 2020 report] forecast that the pandemic would severely hit tourism sectors, especially those in the Pacific including Tonga.
“The bank said Tonga would see zero growth in 2020 due partly to a plunge in visitor arrivals.
“Samoa has received a $US2.9 million grant from the ADB to help finance its health sector's response to the Covid-19 threat.
“There are no confirmed cases of the virus in Samoa, but the government says the scale of the State of Emergency declared on March the 20th is beyond the capacity of the country's health sector.
“The government says the timely assistance from the ADB will help Samoa meet the immediate expenses needed for adequate public health services during the coronavirus crisis.
“On 7 April, the Samoa government announced a $US23.78m stimulus package to cope with the economic impact of the pandemic.
“ADB director general for the Pacific, Leah Gutierrez, said the $US2.9m ($8.1m tala) would help Samoa respond to the unprecedented health emergency.
“Ms Gutierrez said the quick-disbursing financing would also allow Samoa to respond rapidly to the challenges of the pandemic and help support vulnerable groups in the country.
“The Samoan economy suffered from the measles outbreak in late 2019. With the risk of a Covid-19 outbreak, the government closed its borders and declared a State of Emergency on 20 March which remains in place until at least 2 May.
"This response and similar actions by neighbouring countries has had a strong negative economic impact on Samoa, with its tourism and export sectors particularly affected," Ms Gutierrez said.
“She said the ADB's Pacific Disaster Resilience Program was established in December 2017 to help strengthen Samoa, Tonga, and Tuvalu's resilience to disasters.
“On 13 April, the ADB extended its contingent disaster financing instrument to include health-related emergencies in the definition of natural hazards, allowing for the release of funds in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The Pacific Disaster Resilience Program fills a financing gap experienced by many Pacific countries hit hard by disasters. It provides a predictable and quick-disbursing source of financing for early response, recovery, and reconstruction activities, the bank said.”
Copyright © 2020, Radio New Zealand