ADB President, Bhutan Finance Minister Discuss COVID-19 Response

News Release | 7 May 2020

MANILA, PHILIPPINES (7 May 2020) — Asian Development Bank (ADB) President Masatsugu Asakawa and Bhutan Finance Minister and ADB Governor Namgay Tshering today discussed ADB’s support to the country in its fight against the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Mr. Asakawa commended the government’s actions to implement timely public health measures for effective outbreak containment, particularly its $400 million Economic Contingency Plan to counteract the adverse impact of the pandemic on the people and the economy. Bhutan’s response aims at mitigating the immediate adverse effects of the pandemic on the population and businesses through livelihood support and relief measures for vulnerable groups, including displaced employees, unemployed people actively seeking employment, and self-employed individuals in the informal sector, many of whom are women.

“ADB is committed to supporting the government’s needs in these most challenging times,” said Mr. Asakawa. “On 4 May, ADB approved a $20 million quick-disbursing budget support loan with concessional terms to help finance the government’s efforts to mitigate the economic and social impact of the pandemic. It will provide the fiscal space to address critical public health needs, while managing the economic downturn.”

Mr. Tshering thanked ADB for its support and reiterated his government’s strong commitment to carry out immediate containment measures, while protecting the livelihood of the most vulnerable groups and rendering support to affected sectors of the economy. He said the pandemic has resulted in an unprecedented decline in economic activity, including a complete standstill in industries such as tourism and its allied sectors. The construction and manufacturing sectors have also suffered from supply chain disruptions, while other precautionary measures such as social distancing have dampened retail sector demand.

On 27 March, ADB provided a $100,000 grant to Bhutan to procure medical supplies in collaboration with UNICEF. This grant has financed urgently needed personal protective equipment for medical personnel. ADB approved an additional $1.07 million grant on 25 April to expand the supply of essential medical goods. ADB is working closely with the government and development partners to provide policy advice and measures to respond effectively to the health, social, and economic impacts of the pandemic.

ADB is accelerating efforts to support its developing member countries through its expanded COVID-19 response package of $20 billion announced on 13 April. ADB stands ready to provide further financial assistance and policy advice. Visit ADB’s website to learn more about our ongoing response.

ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region.