Aug 14, 2020 Last Updated 10:45 PM, Aug 12, 2020

The Asian Development Bank has announced a series of grants to Pacific nations. US$13.3million has been made available to 10 nations—Cook Islands, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands,  Tuvalu and Vanuatu—to help finance their COVID-19 responses. This is the latest round of ADB  emergency grans for the Pacific. In April, the ADB provided $2 million from the fund to help FSM, Marhsall Islands, Nauru, Tonga and Tuvalu respond to COVID-19.

Separately, the ADB has approved a $20 million loan to Palau to help it provide for COVID-19 and respond to its impact on the economy. An ADB statement says the loan will finance the purchase of ventilators for Belau National Hospital, establish a COVID-19 hotline for public inquiries, and fund overtime and hazard pay for frontline health workers. It will also support Palau’s government to provide concessional loans to local businesses; benefits for the unemployed and assistance finding temporary work in areas such as tourism, the environment, and elderly care; support for free pre-school and childcare for lower income families; and subsidies for utilities such as electricity and water. Palau received a $15 million policy-based loan from the ADB in April.

The ADB has also approved a separate $20 million grant for Samoa to upgrade isolation rooms in hospitals, strengthen quarantine areas, and procure medical supplies. It will help train frontline workers to prevent infections and support the payment of unemployment benefits, cash transfers, and higher pensions for the elderly. The hospitality industry will receive support through lower electricity tariffs and deferred contributions to the Samoa National Provident Fund. Several measures will target support for women, such as grants for village women’s committees to promote rural health and sanitation practices.

Papua New Guinea’s Treasurer, Ian Ling-Stuckey says his country has not had “an economic crisis of such complexity or magnitude since World War 2.” Samoa’s finance minister Sili Epa Tuioti calls it a “social and economic tsunami.” The language being employed by institutions and governments in responding to the economic impact of COVID-19 stresses the historic moment we are living through.

The response of international organisations and donor partners to assist Pacific island economies has been swift, although details are still to be ironed out given the pace with which the pandemic is developing and morphing, and the pervasiveness of its impacts across the globe.

Central to that detail will be the form of that assistance; and whether it’s concessional loans, grants, debt forgiveness or a complex combination of all three and more.

What does the crisis mean for tourism, remittances, digital transformation and more? Get your copy of Islands Business to find out more.

 

Growth forecasts

 

2019

2020

2021

Dependencies

Stimulus package

           

ADB Pacific member countries

 

0.3

2.7

Fiscal stimulus measures across the region of at least 10% of GDP

 

Cook Islands

5.3

-2.2

1

Fiscal stimulus measures of approx. 50% of GDP

US$34.7m

Federated States of Micronesia

3

1.6

-3 (WB)

3

0.5 (WB)

Pension fund reform

New capital projects

US$15m

Fiji

 

-4.9

-4.3 (WB)

3 (ADB)

1.9 (WB)

Improved business and investment climate

Limit debt exposure

Climate resilient infrastructure

US$500 million

French Polynesia

       

US$280m

Kiribati

2.4

1.6

1.8

Well managed, sustainable trust funds

 

Marshall Islands

3.8

2.5

-3 (WB)

3.7

1 (WB)

Pension fund reform

Easing of restrictions on travel and transport

 

Nauru

1

0.4

1.1

Well managed, sustainable trust funds

 

Palau

-3

-4.5

-6 (WB)

1.2

0 (WB)

Pension fund reform

Tourism recovery

 

PNG

4.8

0.8

0.2 (WB)

2.8

3.3 (WB)

Good management of public debt

US$1.6billion

Samoa

3.5

-3

-5 (WB)

0.8

0 (WB)

 

US$23.6milloon

Solomon Islands

2.6

1.5

-6.7 (WB)

2.7

-0.3 (WB)

Large infrastructure projects provide some buffer

Reform of tax system

 

Tonga

3

0

0.5 (WB)

2.5

3.2 (WB)

Tourism recovery

Accelerated rehabilitation and recovery post TC Gita

US$25m

Tuvalu

4.1

2.7

3.2

Well managed, sustainable trust funds

 

Vanuatu

2.8

-1

-8 (WB)

2.5

6 (WB)

Benefits of labour mobility schemes are widespread, sustainable

 

Source: ADB Outlook 2020, World Bank, national governments

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