The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), along with the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, is in discussion with the Indian government for financing a USD 8-billion scheme for improving health infrastructure at the district level to make the country better prepared for the future healthcare challenges.
The Beijing-based multilateral funding agency had earlier approved a financial assistance of USD 1.2 billion for India to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The Government of India has discussed about its ambitious scheme of strengthening the health infrastructure. It entails building health infrastructure in every district including upgrading of testing facilities with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)," AIIB Vice President D J Pandian told PTI in an interview.
It is a USD 8-billion project, he said, adding that the World Bank and Asian Development Bank are also involved in the discussion with the Health Department of the Government of India.
The Finance Ministry is trying to put up a financing plan for this ambitious scheme and the minute details are being worked out, he said.
If things work out, the financing by the AIIB can be cleared this year itself on a fast-track basis, he added.
With regard to COVID-19 assistance, Pandian said the AIIB has approved two loans of USD 500 million and USD 750 million, respectively.
The first loan of USD 500 million sanctioned in May was towards building a resilient health system that can effectively treat COVID-19 patients and prevent its spread, he said A USD 750 million loan was approved in June to help the government strengthen its battle against the adverse impact of COVID-19 on poor and vulnerable households.
For AIIB, India is the largest borrower, which accounts for 25 per cent of the total lending by it so far. As of July 16, 2020, AIIB has approved up to USD 19.6 billion for 87 projects in 24 economies. Since its inception in 2016, AIIB has approved loans to the tune of USD 4.3 billion across 17 projects in India.
India is a founding member of the multilateral funding agency with the second highest voting share. Currently, India has 7.65 per cent vote share in the AIIB while China holds a whopping 26.63 per cent stake in the organisation that was set up in 2016.