The Program’s objective is to mitigate the adverse impacts of COVID-19 on the health and economic opportunities of the population of the Philippines by providing budgetary support to the government’s COVID-19 Response Program.
The CARES Program is proposed to be supported under AIIB’s COVID-19 Crisis Recovery Facility (Facility) and cofinanced with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) as a policy-based loan under its Countercyclical Support Facility COVID-19 Pandemic Response Option (CPRO). The Program will provide critically needed support to help the Government of the Philippines (GoP) mitigate the severe health, social, and economic impact caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Mar. 15, 2020, the GoP announced a COVID-19 Response Program, with several priority actions to address the negative impacts of the pandemic and combat the spread of COVID-19. Specific measures under the Response Program include: (i) enhanced quarantine to reduce the infection rate; (ii) expanded medical services to step up testing and care for affected populations; (iii) social protection and livelihood support to help mitigate the immediate impacts on livelihoods and employment; (iv) a small business relief program; (v) support for agriculture and other economic sectors; and (vi) local government support.
The Program is expected to have the following outputs: (i) by May 2020, an increase in testing capacity to 8,000 per day; (ii) by July 2020, the average turn-around time from sample collection to results reduced to 48 hours or less; (iii) by July 2020, all health care workers, of which 75 percent are female, and all COVID19 cases covered with Philippine Health Insurance Corporation inpatient and primary care COVID-19 related benefits; (iv) by July 2020, conditional cash transfers and emergency subsidy support provided to 4.4 million vulnerable households; (v) by July 2020, emergency subsidy support provided for 13.6 million households; (vi) by December 2020, USD600 million of economic stimulus and support provided to highly affected and vulnerable sectors including agriculture; (vii) by December 2020, wage subsidies provided for at least 1 million micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) (of which 58 percent are registered to women); and (viii) by December 2020, tax relief provided for at least 1 million MSMEs (of which 58 percent are registered to women).
AIIB’s Environmental and Social Policy (ESP) was designed to apply to investment projects and has no provisions for its application to policy-based lending operations. Accordingly, the proposed Program, which is co-financed with the ADB as lead cofinancier, has been prepared in accordance with the provisions of ADB’s SPS applicable to policy-based lending as permitted by AIIB’s Board of Directors’ Decisions to Support the AIIB’s COVID-19 Crisis Recovery Facility. This will ensure a harmonized approach to addressing the environmental and social (ES) risks and impacts of the Program.
Under its SPS, ADB has categorized the Program as Category C for Environment, Involuntary Resettlement, and Indigenous Peoples on the basis of an assessment of the countercyclical expenditures to be supported by the Program. These focus on expanding and strengthening social safety nets for the most vulnerable groups and are not expected to have any adverse environmental or social impacts. The proposed Program has also been categorized by ADB as “effective gender mainstreaming” at entry, as it strengthens the government’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak by addressing gender and social inclusion needs. ES monitoring will be conducted based on guidelines and check lists determined by ADB.
Mark Dennis Y.C. Joven
Department of Finance
Republic of the Philippines