Fri | Jul 23, 2021

Funding support for CDB borrowing member countries towards COVID response

Published:Thursday | July 22, 2021 | 10:04 AM
Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) President, Dr Hyginus “Gene” Leon - Contributed photo.

A total of €30 million or approximately US$35 million in concessional funding support is being provided to bolster the response of the Caribbean Development Bank's 19 borrowing member countries, including Jamaica, to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The funds are intended to assist beneficiary countries in accessing and deploying COVID-19 vaccines and strengthening the capacity of their health services to deal with the pandemic.

The allocation, which is programmed for deployment by year end, has been repurposed from a €120-million Climate Action Line of Credit II, jointly executed by the CDB and European Investment Bank (EIB) in 2017 to aid borrowing member countries in combatting climate change.

CDB president, Dr  Hyginus “Gene” Leon, and EIB Vice President, Ricardo  Mourinho-Félix, signed an agreement for the €30-million provision during a digital signing ceremony on Tuesday.

Leon noted that the funds will be critical for borrowing member countries in getting more affordable access to safe vaccines and related material, equipment and services for their populations.

Additionally, he said the signing is a significant milestone, which marks the start of another phase in the comprehensive COVID-19 response programme initiated by the CDB since the pandemic's onset.

Leon pointed out that the programme included debt service support, policy-based lending, the purchasing of personal protective equipment for front-line workers, procurement of digital devices and other technology that support services to underpin online learning and assist with learning recovery, financing of a regional communication engagement strategy for vaccine uptick and the provision of working capital to micro, small and medium-sized enterprises.

He said against the background of the widespread and unprecedented impact of COVID-19 on developing countries and the challenges they continue to encounter in accessing adequate supplies of vaccines, the CDB welcomed the collaboration forged with the EIB to extend assistance in addressing these issues.

“We will be able to deliver vaccines and health services to our populations, thereby preparing the groundwork for the safe conduct of industrial, commercial and social activities. This agreement, therefore, sends a very strong signal of EIB's commitment to our region and to working collaboratively with the CDB,” Leon added.

In his remarks, Mourinho-Félix said the €30 million will serve to lighten the financial burden associated with pandemic-related spending.

These, he noted, include healthcare costs for inputs such as ventilators and other medical equipment, hospital beds, medicines, testing, and medical research.

“Critically, it will cover the cost of vaccines and vaccination campaigns. This latest financing is another link in the partnership that we (EIB and CDB) have developed together,” he said.

Mourinho-Félix pointed out that the institutions' latest undertaking would help to protect vulnerable groups against the impact of the pandemic “and make sure that Caribbean economies can welcome back tourists and make the region a destination of choice, even while the pandemic still affects us.”