Kathmandu, June 2: Nepal and the Asian Development Bank on Monday signed on a loan agreement of $250 million (equivalent to Rs 30 billion) for the COVID-19 Active Response and Expenditure Support (CARES) Programme to respond to the impacts caused by COVID-19. Sishir Kumar Dhungana, Secretary of Ministry of Finance and ADB Country Director for Nepal Mukhtor Khamudkhanov signed on the agreement at the MoF in the presence of Finance Minister Dr Yuba Raj Khatiwada. This is a concessional loan and will be provided as a budgetary support. It will support Nepal to strengthen its public health system by scaling up its testing laboratories, establishing quarantine facilities in all provinces, enabling of quality health service for prevention, control and cure of communicable disease, developing of health infrastructures with well-equipped hospitals, supplying of medicine and equipment, and providing service of qualified doctors and health workers. The programme will also support the government to mitigate the adverse economic and social impacts of the pandemic, particularly on the poor and vulnerable. “This programme will support the Government’s National Relief Programme that has been announced to address the impact of the corona pandemic and will help to strengthen the Nepali public health system, provide social protection and create more employment,” said Dhungana. Likewise, Khamudkhanov said that ADB remained fully committed to supporting Nepal in this challenging time and would work closely with the government in implementing the programme to support the country in fighting the pandemic.