KYIV, Nov 19 – Ukraine, which faces shortage of funds due to delayed reforms, has been seeking to redirect some of the European Investment Bank assistance to financing battle with the coronavirus pandemic.
Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, via an online link, told EIB Vice-President Teresa Czerwinska that EUR 50-million from the Ukraine Municipal Infrastructure Program should be used to counter the pandemic.
"We will be grateful for the early consideration of the use of funds under this program for the purchase of vaccine against COVID-19,” Shmyhal said. “We expect to purchase an effective and safe vaccine, which will be prequalified by WHO, in order to vaccinate part of the population as soon as such an opportunity arises."
The comments come amid reports that the government has spent most of the money from the COVID-19 fund to build roads and infrastructure, spending that can be difficult to verify and thus prone to corruption.
The International Monetary Fund delayed about $1.4 billion in lending to Ukraine this year amide concerns that the government had reversed many economic reforms and anti-corruption measures.
The developments come as Ukraine registered a record of 13,357 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, health minister Maksym Stepanov said on Thursday, up from a previous record of 12,524 cases reported last week.
He said the number of coronavirus related deaths had also hit a new high of 257 compared with the previous record of 256 deaths.
The total number of COVID cases climbed to 583,510 with 10,369 deaths.
Shmyhal also told Czerwinska that Ukraine is interested in expanding further cooperation with the EIB, in particular in the field of financing transport, the energy sector and urban infrastructure.
In December, Ukraine also expects to sign the project "Ukraine Urban Public Transport II" aimed at updating the rolling stock of urban public electric transport in medium and large cities, as well as the project "Eastern Ukraine: Reunification, Reconstruction and Revival (Project 3B)," which should help rehabilitate roads in Luhansk region to support the agricultural sector.
Shmyhal expressed hope that Ukraine and the EIB will be able to jointly complete in the near future the work on the preparation of the Reconstruction of Boryspil Airport's Runway project and the Program for Ukraine's Restoration.
"We appreciate the cooperation between Ukraine and the European Investment Bank. We hope that together we will be able to develop possible mechanisms to support Ukraine during the pandemic," Shmyhal said. (tl/ez)