NUR-SULTAN (TCA) — The Asian Development Bank (ADB) on June 25 said it has approved a $1 billion assistance package to help the Government of Kazakhstan mitigate the health, social, and economic impacts of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
“ADB is fully committed to supporting Kazakhstan through this challenging period,” said ADB President Masatsugu Asakawa. “ADB is a key development partner to Kazakhstan and this package will help to mitigate the spread of the disease and support government measures to contain the negative impact of the pandemic. ADB will work with Kazakhstan’s authorities towards the introduction of key structural reforms going forward, including to improve public sector management, governance and institutions, provide access to finance for small businesses, support green finance, and boost agricultural productivity.”
Strict social lockdown measures introduced in March significantly impacted Kazakhstan’s economy. This has affected small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in hospitality, education, and other service sectors, and in particular women who account for more than 65% of the workforce in these sectors. A drop in the price of oil and other commodities has halved the prices of 80% of Kazakhstan’s exports, exacerbating the impact.
ADB’s financial assistance will support the comprehensive COVID-19 health policy response, social protection and employment protection measures, and economic stimulus plan introduced by the government to mitigate the adverse impacts of the pandemic.
The government’s health measures include providing personal protective equipment for health workers on the frontline of COVID-19 and paying additional bonuses to health workers, while health care for COVID-19-related hospitalization and medication will remain free of charge.
Kazakhstan’s authorities have been arranging for the distribution of food packages to over 1 million socially vulnerable citizens and extending assistance to poor households and workers who lost income due to the pandemic. The government’s response also includes promoting rural and youth employment, offering affordable mortgage finance, and providing employment support to the most vulnerable.
The government’s package of economic measures includes liquidity support for local companies through guaranteed loans, deferral of tax payments and other fiscal incentives for SMEs—at least 42% of which are owned or managed by women—and workers in sectors most affected by the lockdown, such as tourism.
Given the size of needs for external support, ADB is working to secure cofinancing of its assistance package from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank for $750 million. ADB is also coordinating closely with the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the United Nations, and other development partners.
ADB’s assistance is provided under its COVID-19 Active Response and Expenditure Support (CARES) Program. The package is funded through the COVID-19 pandemic response option (CPRO) created as part of ADB’s $20 billion assistance for developing member countries’ COVID-19 response, announced on 13 April.