Financial Tribune – Iran will receive $50 million from the World Bank to help the health sector cope with the coronavirus pandemic, a deputy health minister said.
This is the first time since 2005 that Iran has applied for such a loan from the WB, Kamel Taqavinejad told state TV.
“The groundwork has been prepared and the loan request is being processed in coordination with relevant bodies, such as [Iran’s] central bank”, he was quoted as saying by IBENA.
The Washington-based WB is expected to launch health emergency programs in over 100 countries by the end of April to support the fight against COVID-19, with 64 already in operation, the World Bank Group President David Malpass said Friday.
Malpass said the WBG will work to deploy as much as $160 billion over the next 15 months, tailored to the nature of the health, economic and social shocks that countries are facing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Iran has reported 82,211 COVID-19 cases countrywide since the beginning of the outbreak up until Sunday. Total deaths reached 5,118 and more than 57,000 people recovered and were discharged from hospital, according to Health Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour.
Soon after the virus began to spread across the country, Iran’s Ministry of Economy sent requests to multilateral development banks, in which Iran is a member, for financial and non-financial aid to combat the fatal disease.
The requests along with a list of medical goods needed to fight the infectious disease were sent to the World Bank, Islamic Development Bank, Asian Infrastructure Development Bank and OPEC Fund for International Development.
According to Taqavinejad, Iran has requested a 130- million euro ($141 million) loan from the Islamic Development Bank for buying medical equipment. After Saudi Arabia and Libya, Iran is the largest stakeholder in the IDB.
Earlier in the month, OPEC Fund for International Development approved $500,000 in emergency grant to Iran to buy equipment needed to fight COVID-19. The aid money will be made available through the World Health Organization (WHO).
US economic sanctions are seen as a threat undermining Tehran’s efforts against the deadly disease. Authorities in the past several weeks have urged the international community not to recognize the unilateral and illegal US penalties that are killing innocent Iranians.
The Central Bank of Iran requested $5 billion in emergency loan from the IMF to contain spread of the infectious disease and mitigate its dangerous economic impact.
However, there are concerns that the crisis lender may reject the request under pressure from the United States.
As of Sunday there was no official response from the IMF regarding Tehran’s request for help while dozens of other countries have already received the emergency loans, foreign news outlets reported this week.
Jihad Azour, director of IMF’s Middle East and Central Asia Department told the Tehran-based Persian-language newspaper Donya-e-Eqtesad 0n Wednesday that the lender was gathering data from Iran over its request.