WB disburses USD 192 M

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The World Bank’s (WB’s) crisis response is repurposing funds from existing WB-financed projects to address the people’s most pressing needs, including cash transfers, liquid petroleum gas (LPG) and fertiliser, the WB in a statement  recently ( Wednesday 17 August) said.

Those included the disbursement of US$ 192.10 million in aid, including USD 145 million as emergency cash transfers covering the three month period from May-July 2022 targeting three million poor and vulnerable Sri Lankans.

They received cash assistance payments of between Rs 5,000 and  Rs 7,500 monthly as supplementary support through divisional secretariats, post offices, and through Samurdhi and other nominated bank accounts, the WB said.

The coverage included the elderly, chronic kidney disease patients, people with disabilities and participants in the Samurdhi welfare programme (existing and waitlisted recipients) who were prioritised as beneficiaries in all districts, it said.

A further disbursement of 
USD 26.7 million was made for the procurement of 1.5 million cylinders of LPG for the distribution in urban and semi-urban households and businesses, the WB said. “Nearly 40 per cent of Sri Lanka’s population and 77 per cent of its urban population is severely affected by the LPG or cooking gas shortage, where LPG is the only option available for cooking for most of the urban and semi-urban population, it said.

“WB financing is supporting the purchase of 70,000 metric tons (MTs) of LPG to cover roughly over 3.5 months’ supply (July – October) to reduce acute shortages and help families and small businesses,” the WB in its statement said.

Another USD 20.4 million has been reallocated for the purchase of essential medicines, medical supplies, and nutritional supplements which are urgently needed to strengthen health resources, it said. “WB has delivered essential medicines worth USD 20.4 million to the Health Ministry,” the statement added. The medicines will be distributed to all public hospitals at no cost, based on need, estimations and disease patterns to ensure sufficient supplies to combat the Covid-19 pandemic and other life-threatening diseases, it said. Additionally, the repurposing of existing funds to finance fertiliser for smallholder farmers and support from on-going projects for school meals and tuition waivers for children from vulnerable households is being finalised, which values will be made public once disbursements are made, it said.

WB is working closely with implementing agencies to establish robust controls and fiduciary oversight to ensure these resources reach the poorest and most vulnerable, the statement said. This will be monitored closely and adhere to WB fiduciary and safeguards requirements under emergency situations.

The Bank is closely coordinating its support with other development partners, including the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the United Nations (UN) to maximise the impact of its support for the people of Sri Lanka, the statement further said.

By Paneetha Ameresekere