World Bank, efforts to “quickly” approve a

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The World Bank is working to “approve” an additional $ 350 million loan for Ukraine in a few days’ time, to provide emergency money for its efforts to defend itself against the Russian invasion, said people familiar with the plans. , according to Reuters.

Extending an existing loan would provide “budget support” to Ukraine without restrictions on how President Volodymyr Zelensky’s government can spend it, sources told Reuters.

One source said the loan could be ready for review by the World Bank board later this week, while another said next week it would be possible, with payments to be made in a few weeks. days after approval.

They said the plan has strong support from the 25-member World Bank executive board, despite objections from Russia’s chief executive. The United States and Western allies control an overwhelming majority of the financial institution’s voting shares.

The move to transfer cash to Ukraine has become more urgent at the World Bank since Russia invaded the country last week. World Bank President David Malpass told Zelenski in Munich on February 19 that the organization is preparing a $ 350 million payment by the end of March, followed by other funding projects.

A World Bank spokesman declined to comment on the plan, but said: “We are currently preparing a fast-paying financing package for Ukraine, which we hope to present to our board for consideration in the coming days. ”.

Sources described the payment as “an additional” that would effectively double the $ 350 million development policy loan given to Ukraine on December 17 to support reforms and stimulate more competition in the economy and access to credit for small businesses. farmers.

The plan would bring the World Bank’s lending to Ukraine in the last year alone to more than $ 1.5 billion, including loans to respond to Covid-19 and vaccinations, improving the power grid and education.

It would not add to Ukraine’s policy commitments, and by extending an existing loan, the bank could move to board approval much faster than if it were to begin a completely new loan process with new program objectives, they said. sources. Some of the new funds may come from bilateral donor countries.

As Russia’s invading force in Ukraine grows, one source said $ 350 million could be stopped if Zelenskii’s government is fired before the transfer is complete.

“If on the day of payment there are concerns that the funds will be misused, they will not be paid,” said one source. “Unless the bank is sure that the funds will reach the Ukrainian government, they will not be paid until the last minute.”

Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in early 2020, the World Bank has provided a total of $ 2.3 billion in budget support loans, health care responses, vaccinations and investment projects.