World Bank provides assistance to India as corona crisis worsens

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After healthcare, the World Bank on Friday said it had cleared a $1 billion assistance for social protection and is in talks with the Indian government for funding initiatives to assist micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

World Bank country director Junaid Ahmad did not elaborate on the size of the loans for MSMEs, saying they were being negotiated. He, however, complimented the government’s approach, focusing on healthcare, social protection and economic stabilization.

Had India not locked down, we would have been staring at much higher number of cases now. However, other countries have slowed down their growth rates more effectively through lockdowns.

“India’s assistance is the largest among emerging markets… The government has been very practical in coming in phases. It needs to keep the powder dry… and come in later, if needed,” he said.

The multilateral agency’s support for social protection will be funded in two phases – an allocation of $750 million before the end of June and a $250 million second tranche by June, 2021.

In the first phase, the funding is meant to support Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana will help scale up the public distribution system and direct benefit transfer apart from supporting other initiatives such as social protection for workers engaged in the fight against Covid19.

“This $1 billion will help the government’s large support. It is the government of India which is leading with expenditure, we are just following. Other development partners will also come behind this programme,” said Junaid Ahmad, World Bank country director in India.

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