March 19, 2020 / 6:09 PM / in 10 days

Uzbekistan to borrow $1 billion to fight coronavirus, aid economy

TASHKENT (Reuters) - President Shavkat Mirziyoyev ordered Uzbekistan’s government on Thursday to borrow up to $1 billion abroad to finance measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus and counter its impact on the national economy.

The gas- and gold-exporting Central Asian nation could lose up to $1.1 billion from projected export revenue this year, and GDP growth could be 3.7% compared to the previously anticipated 5.5%, the justice ministry said in a statement citing a government meeting.

Mirziyoyev ordered the government to set up a 10 trillion sum ($1.05 billion) fund under the finance ministry and to finance it with soft loans from international financial institutions and other sources.

The money is intended not only to help curb the spread of the coronavirus, which has infected 23 people in the country of 34 million, but also to help maintain employment levels and fill gaps in local budgets.

Reporting by Mukhammadsharif Mamatkulov; writing by Olzhas Auyezov; editing by Andrey Ostroukh and Timothy Heritage

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