KATHMANDU, April 27: The European Union (EU) has announced an aid package of Rs 9.8 billion (Euro 75 million) for Nepal to tackle the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic and mitigate its impact. The support combines redirected existing commitments with new funds, granted in the form of budget support to allow the government direct and swift access to this financing, according to the EU Delegation to Nepal.
“In difficult times, the European Union is a reliable friend and partner for Nepal. We hope that our contribution will support the efforts of the government to respond effectively to this crisis so that the impact on the most vulnerable is reduced. International cooperation and solidarity are now more important than ever,” a press statement issued by the EU Delegation to Nepal quoted EU Ambassador to Nepal, Veronica Cody, as saying.
Across the world, the EU is ensuring that partner countries are able to fight the coronavirus pandemic and its consequences. By combining resources from the EU, its member states, and European financial institutions, the EU has put together a “Team Europe” package totaling more than Euro 20 billion to support its partners’ immediate health responses to the coronavirus, as well as their economic recovery, according to the statement.
In Nepal, the EU is mobilizing Rs 9.8 billion (Euro 75 million) of which Rs 7.2 billion (Euro 55 million) is a reorientation of the existing funds and NPR 2.6 billion (Euro 20 million) represents a new commitment. "The EU’s support will be directed at two areas: assisting the Nepalese authorities to respond to the immediate health crisis and boosting the country’s economic response and recovery," the statement further said.
The EU will give Rs 1.6 billion (Euro 12 million) to support the government’s health and preparedness plan. These funds are being made available either by topping up resources for already existing projects focussing on the health sector or by reorienting resources to other projects that would integrate health-related activities and crisis response, including tackling gender-based violence. Similarly, Rs 8.2 billion (Euro 62.6 million) will support the government’s response to the social and economic consequences of the pandemic.
The statement said although the government’s strict measures to trace, isolate and treat the virus have so far helped to contain the health crisis, such measures will, as in all countries worldwide, have a negative economic impact. "By stimulating the economy and labor demand, through support to people’s incomes, employment retention, and the extension of social protection programs that assist the most vulnerable, the European Union hopes to assist the government’s economic recovery plan," added the statement.