The European Union is ready to give 51 million euros for supporting Armenia's economy and the healthcare system as it battles for curbing the South Caucasus'worst outbreak of the deadly coronavirus or COVID-19. The country which has population of three million has reported 736 virus cases by Friday whereas seven died.

The mission of EU in Armenia stated on its Facebook page the the bloc will provide 18 million euros of the new funding, with around 33 million euros going to be redirected from existing projects. The funds are going to be used for purchasing medical devices and equipment, train medical and laboratory staff and support small and medium-sized enterprises and economic growth in general.

"More is yet to come through access to important regional banking facilities and further restructuring of projects," the EU mission said. Armenian authorities say the pandemic will slash economic growth that had been forecast at 4.9 percent this year. "In 2020 the economic growth in Armenia will be 0.7 percent which is significantly low from the previous forecast, but it will recover in 2021 and be 7.2 percent," the central bank said in its quarterly inflation report.

EU to support Armenia's economy

Coronavirus
Coronavirus IANS

International financial institutions have also pledged support. The World Bank said on Friday it had allocated $3 million to address Armenia's urgent need for medical equipment and supplies, while the Asian Development Bank gave a $100,000 grant to buy personal protective equipment for medical staff. The International Monetary Fund mission is currently conducting a review of an $248 million loan arrangement which the government had previously treated as precautionary.

"Now that the global health pandemic has turned into an economic and financial crisis, (the government) may choose to draw on these resources," the IMF's resident representative in Armenia, Yulia Ustyugova, told Reuters. She said a $105.4 million tranche would be available for Armenia once the current review is successfully completed.

Dimitri Gvindadze, who heads the Armenian office of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, said it was ready to make funds available for Armenia's private sector, municipal enterprises, energy and infrastructure companies. "We are ready to deploy a full spectrum of our products and instruments to support Armenia," Gvindadze told Reuters.

(With agency inputs)