World Bank lends $ 500 million to Colombia to meet infrastructure needs

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BOGOTA, Sept. 30 (Reuters) – The World Bank has approved a $ 500 million loan to Colombia to support the Andean country’s basic infrastructure needs and protect vulnerable groups during the coronavirus pandemic, she said. announced Wednesday.

The pandemic has put essential service providers such as electricity, water and sewage companies under significant pressure, the bank said in a statement, adding that the loan would support the Colombian government to manage the impact. of the pandemic on vulnerable segments of society.

“The infrastructure sector is an essential element in a comprehensive strategy to rebuild the economy, mitigate the social impact and promote the country’s recovery,” said Ulrich Zachau, director of the bank for Colombia and Venezuela, in the communicated.

The loan will also be used to develop resilient and sustainable infrastructure to support Colombia’s economic recovery and promote the use of renewable energy sources and reduce carbon emissions.

“With this operation, we hope to have a positive impact on job creation, competitiveness and growth with a strong emphasis on climate change mitigation and adaptation,” Zachau said.

In the first six months of the year, the World Bank loaned Colombia $ 1.25 billion and provided the country with $ 250 million in emergency funding to help its response to the coronavirus.

President Ivan Duque declared a national lockdown at the end of March to control the spread of the coronavirus, which was lifted at the end of August. The measures hit the country’s economy, causing urban unemployment to skyrocket and the closure of thousands of businesses.

Colombia has reported just under 830,000 coronavirus cases and nearly 26,000 deaths.

“The World Bank is supporting the most relevant efforts we have launched to respond adequately and effectively to the demands placed on our infrastructure by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Colombian Minister of Finance Alberto Carrasquilla.

“In addition (the loan) will bring significant resources to finance the country’s budget,” he added. (Reporting by Oliver Griffin, editing by Stephen Coates)

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