UPDATE 1-China-backed AIIB proposes $5 bln funding line for coronavirus crisis

(Adds details of facility, quotes of vice president)

BEIJING, April 3 (Reuters) – Beijing-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) said on Friday it was proposing to its board to form a $5 billion financing facility to help public and private sector entities navigate the coronavirus pandemic.

The proposed crisis recovery facility is in response to urgent economic, financial and public health pressures, and to support a quick recovery after the current crisis, AIIB said in a statement.

The facility will aim to help efforts to deal with both the health crisis – from basic health infrastructure to advanced healthcare – and the economic fallout, Joachim von Amsberg, a vice president at AIIB, told Reuters.

It is also part of the coordinated international response to counter the pandemic, following the recent extraordinary summit of G20 leaders, the bank said.

The facility is open to proposals and loans are expected to start being approved “within a very few weeks”, von Amsberg said.

Smaller enterprises, which have fewer buffers to weather a crisis, will be one focus of the facility, with funding to reach them indirectly through national-level banks, he said.

China’s extensive monitoring, tracing and testing systems, which have been a key part of its epidemic response, are examples of health infrastructure that the AIIB would be happy to help other countries build, he said.

Other projects in AIIB’s pipeline may well see delays as clients focus on dealing with the outbreak, said von Amsberg.

“Governments’ attention is distracted away from their long-term projects towards their short-term crisis response,” he said. (Reporting by Gabriel Crossley and Ryan Woo; Editing by Tom Hogue and Muralikumar Anantharaman)

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