UN: IFC gives US$450 million in finance package to Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone

New York, US (PANA) - The World Bank’s private sector arm, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), on Wednesday announced a package of some US$450 million in commercial financing that will enable trade, investment, and employment in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

The announcement by the IFC/World Bank Group also noted that if the virus continued to surge in the three worst-affected countries and spread to neighbouring States, the two-year regional financial impact could reach US$32.6 billion by the end of 2015.

Mr. Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group, said: "Ebola is a humanitarian crisis first and foremost, but it is also an economic disaster for Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. That is why in addition to our emergency aid we will do all we can to help support the private sector in these countries to build back their businesses."

He said the IFC initiative included a programme began in October to reach 800 small and medium enterprises in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone to help ensure business continuity during the crisis.

Mr. Kim also said that the programme would provide medical and hygiene supplies, related literature and training on preventive measures.

According to him: "The fear swirling around Ebola has the potential to do long-term harm to businesses globally, and especially in the Ebola-affected countries.

"Our private sector arm – IFC – will find ways to help boost trade and investment in West Africa,
which will be essential to ensure that private companies continue to operate and sustain
employment under difficult circumstances."

Also, the World Bank Group said it was mobilizing nearly US$1 billion for the three countries hardest hit by the Ebola crisis.

Meanwhile, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) on Wednesday warned that the Ebola outbreak is impairing the ability of the governments of the frontline countries to raise revenues, increasing their exposure to domestic and foreign debts and may make them more dependent on aid.

UNDP stated that, in just six months, the outbreak had led to severe loss in household incomes, totalling 35 per cent in Liberia, 30 per cent in Sierra Leone and 13 per cent in Guinea.

Mr. Abdoulaye Mar Dieye, UNDP Director of the Regional Bureau for Africa, stated: "We need to make sure that the Ebola outbreak does not lead to socio-economic collapse. Because of Ebola, government expenses have risen by about 30 per cent in all three countries and fiscal deficits are rising."

He noted hat Liberia had had to sacrifice US$20 million-worth of infrastructure development and Sierra Leone US$16 million, since the beginning of the crisis, while Guinea had just revised its budget to reflect the new reality imposed by the outbreak of the virus.

He also said that exports of fruit and vegetables from the northeast of Guinea to neighbouring countries had been down by 90 per cent.

The UNDP study also urged governments and national and international partners to continue investing in development activities and make sure every dollar spent on tackling the emergency was an opportunity to invest back in the community and economy for the long haul.

It said Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone had experienced encouraging rates of economic growth over the past 10 years – at 2.8, 10 and 8 percent respectively – sustained by mining, forestry, agriculture and services.

The UN World Health Organization (WHO), in its most recent statistics on the crisis, reported 13,042 cases in Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Sierra Leone, Spain and the US, as well as in two previously affected countries, Nigeria and Senegal.

The agency, however, noted that all districts in both Sierra Leone and Liberia had now been infected and that “in Sierra Leone, the weekly incidence continues to rise, while in Liberia it appears to be declining".

It also said cases and deaths continued to be under-reported.
-0- PANA AA/MA 5Nov2014

05 november 2014 22:54:14

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