The Council of Europe Development Bank (CEB)* has approved a €200 million loan to Serbia to finance health expenditures for combatting COVID-19.
The Serbian government has been swift to implement a range of measures, including the purchase of emergency equipment and supplies, to help contain the spread of COVID-19. The CEB loan, in the form of a Public Finance Facility (PFF), will cover gaps in the extraordinary budget lines created for COVID-19 mitigation measures.
The PFF will support the provision of health services and ensure the stability of the health sector, including the protection of medical staff. It will allow Serbia to finance the cost of medical and pharmaceutical supplies, medical equipment, patient monitors and coronavirus tests.
A key focus of the PFF is on improving the supply to hospitals of personal protective equipment such as epidemiological and surgical masks, alcohol disinfectants and protective clothing.
The CEB already supports the health sector in Serbia through established projects. The Bank recently approved a €54 million loan for the new Tirsova childcare hospital, as well as a €200 million PFF to part-finance health infrastructure projects across the country.
This latest loan brings ongoing CEB investments in Serbia to almost €1 billion.
CEB Governor Rolf Wenzel said: “Health is a priority area for CEB financing and the Bank has had excellent cooperation with Serbia in this sector. The COVID-19 outbreak has necessitated additional investments in this area, so the CEB has moved quickly to support its member countries. The loan provided to Serbia is part of our efforts to forge ahead united in our fight against this pandemic.”
Siniša Mali, Minister of Finance, commented: “We are very grateful to the Council of Europe Development Bank for this support and the funds will be used to ensure that our medics are well equipped. Unfortunately, our country, as well as the whole world, has faced the consequences of the coronavirus, but with decisive and timely measures we are managing to combat this crisis with as few consequences as possible.”
*Set up in 1956, the CEB (Council of Europe Development Bank) has 41 member states. 22 Central, Eastern and South Eastern European countries, forming the Bank's target countries, are listed among the member states. As a major instrument of the policy of solidarity in Europe, the Bank finances social projects by making available resources raised in conditions reflecting the quality of its rating (AA+ with Fitch Ratings, outlook positive, AAA with Standard & Poor's, outlook stable and Aa1 with Moody's, outlook stable). It thus grants loans to its member states, and to financial institutions and local authorities in its member states for the financing of projects in the social sector, in accordance with its Articles of Agreement.