IDB adds to emergency loans in Central America

IDB adds to emergency loans in Central America

Coronavirus Loans Economy & Policy Corporate & Sovereign Strategy Central America Dominican Republic Panama Honduras El Salvador Belize

Editor's note: LatinFinance is making some of its most important coronavirus-related material freely available to all readers. Visit our coronavirus section for all our coverage and sign up to receive the Daily Brief newsletter in your inbox every morning.

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) said it has made another $1.7 billion available in emergency financing for four countries in Central America to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

"Through new programs to tackle the crisis and changes to the 2020 loan program, the IDB is now dedicating $2.8 billion to tackle the public health crisis and its economic ravages," the Washington DC-based development bank said in a press release on Friday.

The IDB added that the emergency financing focuses on four areas: an immediate public health response, aid for vulnerable populations, assistance for companies and their employees and fiscal policies to lessen the economic impacts.

In Panama, the IDB granted $400 million in funding to support government finances and received a request for $300 million to help micro, small- and medium- size companies and farmers. It also supplied an initial $8.75 million, which can be increased to $20 million, to purchase medical equipment and improve healthcare services in indigenous communities, it said.

In Honduras, the IDB redirected $50 million from four loans at the government's request to hire healthcare workers and buy medical equipment, among other measures.

In El Salvador, the IDB is working on two programs for $250 million each to increase government spending on the crisis. It also granted $15.4 million, which can be increased to $20 million, to buy ventilators, masks, protective gowns and monitors, among other medical equipment.

The IDB also said it redirected a grant to Belize to buy test kits and carry out a government campaign to encourage people to wash their hands. 

"As another way to help these countries, the IDB is working to streamline tax procedures and on ways to help supply meet demand," it said in the press release, adding that it is coordinating efforts with the Council of Ministers of Health of Central America, or Comisca.