World Bank Pledges $80 Million to Support Georgia’s Response to COVID-19 Pandemic
The World Bank will provide $80 million in financial support to Georgia to help the government’s efforts to mitigate and address the health and social impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. This support is being provided under the World Bank’s Fast Track Covid-19 Facility. The World Bank is also collaborating with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank to provide an additional $100 million under a joint co-finance arrangement.
The goal is to finance measures that help prevent, detect and respond to the threat posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and provide immediate social protection support to the most vulnerable. It is expected to benefit the population at large, but in particular, people who are infected and at-risk groups such as the elderly and people with chronic conditions, as well as medical and emergency personnel. Health-related emergency COVID-19 response measures include case detection and confirmation, increased testing, as well as health system strengthening for case management.
In addition, the project will provide income support to poor and vulnerable households by scaling-up of the Targeted Social Assistance program and providing temporary cash transfers to workers who lost jobs due to the pandemic.
“Through our rapid support, we are helping save lives and protect the livelihoods of those impacted by the pandemic during this challenging time,” said Sebastian Molineus, World Bank Regional Director for the South Caucasus. “We estimate that the total World Bank Group financing package for Georgia’s COVID-19 response will be approximately $200 million in new financing, in addition to the approximately $300 million funds in our pipeline for 2020-2021 for projects in support of broader development needs, such as digital connectivity and infrastructure”.
“I would especially like to note that our partners have been actively involved in the negotiations with the Government of Georgia since the very first days of the pandemic. Once again, I would like to thank them for that tremendous support,” said Ivane Matchavariani, Minister of Finance of Georgia. “Furthermore, I would like to emphasize the role of the World Bank in the preparation of this program, as well as in the development of our country in general.”
This project is part of the World Bank’s broader support for the people of Georgia, and is the first a series of three lending operations to be rolled-out over the coming three months. The second upcoming operation will come in the form of additional financing to the existing Economic Management and Competitiveness Development Policy Operation (approved by World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors on March 26, 2020). Third is the upcoming Relief and Recovery for MSMEs and Jobs project, which aims to support the jobs agenda as well as micro, small and medium-sized enterprises that have been affected by the pandemic.
In addition to the direct support for Georgia’s response to COVID-19, the World Bank also intends to support the country’s broader development needs, such as digital connectivity and infrastructure through the upcoming “Log-In Georgia” project, which will support the Government’s plan to connect more than 700 villages to the internet via fiber optic cable networks, and which will boost remote learning and overall connectivity essential for livelihoods hampered by pandemic-required social distancing.
The World Bank has also been actively providing just-in-time advisory support to the Government of Georgia, through sharing best global practices in fighting health, social protection and economic crises, as well as playing the role of a procurement agent on behalf of client countries to resolve strains on global supply chains though directly engagement with key global suppliers for medical supplies and equipment.
The World Bank Group, one of the largest sources of funding and knowledge for developing countries, is taking broad, fast action to help developing countries strengthen their pandemic response. We are increasing disease surveillance, improving public health interventions, and helping the private sector continue to operate and sustain jobs. Over the next 15 months, we will be deploying up to $160 billion in financial support to help countries protect the poor and vulnerable, support businesses, and bolster economic recovery, including $50 billion of new IDA resources in grants or highly concessional terms.