The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has pledged to provide $1.7 billion to Pakistan to combat the economic impacts of coronavirus in the country, it was learned on Friday.

The assurance was given by the ADB President to the Minister for Economic Affairs Khusro Bakhtiar, during a virtual meeting. As per details, the bank will approve $800 million budget support by June this year. It will then provide the next tranche of nine hundred million dollars by the end of this year.

The budget support will be provided to Pakistan on a special concessionary basis.

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The Minister for Economic Affairs thanked the ADB for extending the financial cooperation to Pakistan. The development comes amid the outbreak of coronavirus pandemic in the country which has affected over 11,000 persons and has killed over 220 people, whereas, the economic toll has become more worrisome due to protective measures of lockdown imposed by the government.

The ADB has projected that Pakistan’s economic growth would slow down to 2.6 per cent this year due to ongoing stabilization efforts and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The ADB in its latest report, Asian Development Outlook (ADO) 2020 highlighted several factors behind the slow down including slower growth in agriculture and the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak, the report said that the economy would, however, recover to 3.2pc in 2021.

“Pakistan’s strong and decisive policy measures have started to yield positive results in reversing macroeconomic imbalances and narrowing current account deficits,” said ADB Country Director for Pakistan Xiaohong Yang.

The bank has already announced that it will roll out a massive $20 billion package to help developing member nations during the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. The fund represents the tripling of a package announced just a month ago, which the ADB decided to boost as the scale of the contagion’s impact has mushroomed.

UNSG seconds Imran Khan for debt relief to developing countries:

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has supported Prime Minister Imran Khan’s call for a ‘Global Initiative on debt relief’ to provide debt relief for the developing countries in wake of economic meltdown generated by the coronavirus pandemic.

Earlier last week, in a virtual news briefing, UN chief’s spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, said, “The prime minister’s initiative is in the same spirit as the secretary-general’s own position.”

The spokesperson said, “Mr Guterres believes that debt relief must be an important part of the response to coronavirus, including immediate waivers on interest payments for 2020.”

He said the UN Chief believes that debt relief must be an important part of COVID-19 response, including immediate waiver on interest payments for the current year. The spokesman added, it is important that the limited resources of the world’s poorest countries must be used to combat COVID-19 virus.