World Bank president David Malpass. Picture: GETTY IMAGES/AFP/MARK WILSON
World Bank president David Malpass. Picture: GETTY IMAGES/AFP/MARK WILSON

Washington — The World Bank’s board is finalising a package of coronavirus relief valued at up to $160bn over the next 15 months, the development lender’s president David Malpass said on Thursday.

“The goals are to shorten the time to recovery, create conditions for growth, support small and medium enterprises, and help protect the poor and vulnerable,” Malpass said in a statement issued after a G20 leaders call on Thursday.

He added that the health crisis has hit close to home, as former World Bank US executive director Carole Brookins has died of Covid-19.

Earlier in March, the World Bank approved $14bn in loans and grants to bolster coronavirus medical responses, which is included in the $160bn.

Malpass said the bank now has new coronavirus-related projects underway in 56 countries and is encouraging other multilateral development banks to co-finance follow-up tranches. World Bank Group entities are restructuring existing projects in 24 countries to direct funds to the health emergency.

“I’m particularly concerned about poor, densely populated countries, such as India, where weak health systems need massively scalable investments in human capital, supplies and infrastructure,” Malpass said. “We are working hard to provide support through our public- and private-sector tools.

The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the World Bank’s private-sector arm, is working on new investments in 300 companies and is extending trade finance and working capital lines of credit, he added.

On Wednesday, Malpass and International Monetary Fund (IMF) MD Kristalina Georgieva urged bilateral creditors to extend debt relief to help the poorest countries deal with the pandemic.

Reuters