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EghtesadOnline: The World Bank will give $90 million to Iran to help it cope with the coronavirus pandemic, the head of the Organization for Investment, Economic and Technical Assistance of Iran said.

Ali Fekri said the loan will be given to the Health Ministry to buy medical equipment to fight Covid-19, the Economy Ministry’s news agency shada.ir reported.

“Compared to other international funding programs, WB loans have the lowest interest,” Fekri said without  elaboration.   

Pointing to the pattern of hostile attempts by some foreign governments, namely the United States, to impede the lending process, the official noted that US restrictions imposed on money transfer to and from Iran would not undermine the WB lending. 

“Medical equipment to help counter the pandemic will be purchased [with the WB loan] and delivered by the World Health Organization.” 

Iran is the epicenter of Covid-19 pandemic in the Mideast region. More than 6.2 million have been infected by the virus since the outbreak of infectious disease in February 2020 and 131,812 people have died due to the brutal virus, according to the Health Ministry data.

 

The Washington-based crisis lender said that it has launched health emergency programs in over 100 countries to support the fight against Covid-19. 

“As of December 23, 2021, the World Bank approved operations to support vaccine rollout in 67 countries amounting to $7.5 billion,” the bank has said.

Soon after the virus began to spread across the country, Iran’s Ministry of Economy sent requests to multilateral development banks, in which Iran is a member, for financial and non-financial aid to combat the fatal disease. 

The requests along with a list of medical goods to fight the infectious disease were sent to the WB, Islamic Development Bank, Asian Infrastructure Development Bank and OPEC Fund for International Development. 

Tehran received $50 million from the WB in 2020 to help the health sector cope with the virus.  The OPEC Fund for International Development approved $500,000 in an emergency grant to Iran to buy equipment to fight the plague.

In March 2020 Iran requested a $5 billion in emergency loan from the International Monetary Fund to contain the pandemic and mitigate its effects on the economy. 

After almost 21 months, the request is on hold apparently under US pressure, especially when Donald Trump was in the White House. The controversial US president was voted out of office a year ago and is facing several criminal investigations. 

 

World Bank pandemic