Monochrome by Centil Law: Mo money, no fewer problems

Another week passes and staying afloat is no easier, as money flows seem to have no major positive impact.

Kyrgyzstan ranked first in the New York time’s weekly world overview of COVID-19 confirmed cases and deaths per capita, with the reported numbers reaching 17,003 and 951 respectively. However, official statistics do not include asymptomatic and non-hospitalised cases, resulting in the numbers reported by the Health Ministry being lower than the data shared by the Republican Commission.

Although the Kyrgyz authorities fear not being able to afford another lockdown, the government allocated $55m to commercial banks to issue credits to small and medium sized businesses, as part of the national program financing entrepreneurship. $29m were issued by the Finance Ministry and $26m were funded through credit auctions. This was complemented with additional tax exemptions.

The European Union secured an additional US$3.4m for its Central Asia COVID-19 Crisis Response Program to provide financial, medical and technical assistance across the region in the fight against the pandemic. Aside from this, the EU also issued a €112.2m grant for Tajikistan’s health, education and social services sectors as part of its $124m aid package “Team Europe Global Response”.

Kazakhstan introduced a new healthcare code, which includes the decriminalisation of medical error, the right to either give informed consent or to refuse preventive vaccinations, the stricting of rules regarding tobacco and its non-smoking products, a ban on the import, production and distribution of e-cigarettes, as well as an increase of powers, rights and responsibilities of the chief state doctors.

International funding flows into Uzbekistan, yet facing the struggling healthcare system President Mirziyoyev extends the lockdown beyond 1 August. The Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development extended $5.6m funding to equip hospitals to tackle the virus. Earlier this year, the Fund issued a $23.1m credit for 26 years directed at healthcare, adding to over $30m in loans in 2019.

The country's Halqbank also received funding, $50m from Cargill Financial Services International to issue credit lines for private business projects across the country in agriculture, food processing and cattle feed. This comes in complement to the $98m issued last week by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to Halqbank, Microcreditbank and Agrobank to support the growing private sector. 

Tajikistan also benefited from a €19,6m Grant from Germany’s Development Bank, KfW, of which €18.6m will be disbursed to finalise the construction of the 10MW Sebzor hydroelectric power station started in 2015 and €1m is intended for the country’s healthcare needs. Earlier, the HPP received €29,44m from Germany, Switzerland, USAID and the World Bank combined, although the total cost was estimated at €31,68m.

Uzbekistan shares plans to attract $1bn investments into the production of cement in 2020 and 2021, as part of the national program for the facilitation of cement importation for domestic consumption. The funds will be intended for the construction of 18 new production plants and to increase the current capacities. The target capacity for the end of this year is set at 9,06m tonnes, which is a 66% increase from the 1H20 production volume.

It seems, India and Pakistan may be losing out on their partnerships with Tehran and Beijing in light of the agreement between China and Iran. As new plans arise for the Chabahar port, New Delhi’s stronghold to access the Afghan market, India might be left out from the Chabahar-Zahedan railway line. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor may also lack attention from the Belt and Road funding.

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