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Completed В» Page 5 of 14 В» FAP NATION
Afghanistan is currently going through a severe third wave of infections, with the number of cases and deaths topping the peaks of the first wave a year ago. Almost a third of the individuals tested recently had the infection. In response, the authorities have closed schools until further notice and are trying to speed up vaccinations. In consultation with the neighboring countries, they have also halted the movement of people across borders while keeping them open to trade and cargo transit.
The authorities aim to vaccinate 60 percent of the population. Essential workers and groups prioritized by the National Technical Committee based on their vulnerability to COVID-19 will be vaccinated first. Inoculations using 500,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine donated by India started in February. The COVAX facility aims to provide vaccines covering 20 percent of the population, with the first shipments of 468,000 doses delivered in early March. Vaccination of another 28 percent of population is expected to be funded by World Bank and ADB grants. That said, less than one percent of the population has been fully vaccinated so far, and Afghanistan is facing a vaccine shortage after a large shipment has been delayed significantly. In response, China donated 700,000 doses, and the U.S. is delivering 3 million doses of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine this week. In addition to the vaccine shortage, the inoculation campaign is also facing administrative challenges and vaccine hesitancy in rural areas.
The authorities rolled out about 0.8 percent of GDP social assistance under the World Bank-funded REACH program in 2020, with the remaining 0.6 percent of GDP continuing in 2021. The program targets Afghan households with incomes of $2 per day or lower (twice the national poverty line), with households in rural areas receiving an equivalent of $50 in essential food staples and hygiene products, while those in urban areas a combination of cash and in-kind equivalent to $100, in two tranches. .
The government adopted two support packages in 2020 for people and businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic of a combined size of Lek 45 billion (2.8 percent of GDP) consisting of budget spending, sovereign guarantees and tax deferrals. The first package adopted on March 19, 2020 through a normative act had support measures of Lek 23bn (1.4 percent of GDP) through a combination of spending reallocations, spending increases and sovereign guarantees to support affected businesses. The key measures are: (i) additional funding for health sector in the amount of Lek 2.5 billion (ii) Lek 6.5bn for the support of small businesses/self-employed that are forced to close activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic by paying them minimum salaries (up to two in the case of family businesses with unpaid family members), doubling of the unemployment benefits and social assistance layouts. (iii) Lek 2bn of defense spending reallocated toward humanitarian relief for the most vulnerable which were not used, (iv) Lek 11bn (0.6 percent of GDP) sovereign guarantee fund for companies to access overdrafts in the banking system to pay wages for their employees for up to 3 months with an interest rate capped at 2.85 percent for a maturity of up to 2 years. The government will bear the interest costs. The second package adopted on April 15 2020, includes (i) Lek 7bn (0.4 percent of GDP) fund to pay for a one-off transfer of Lk40,000 to employees of small businesses affected by the pandemic not covered in the first package, employees of large businesses laid off due to the pandemic, and employees in the tourism sector; (ii) a sovereign guarantee of Lek 15 billion (0.9 percent of GDP) to provide loans for working capital for all private companies that were tax-compliant and solvent before the pandemic. The government will guarantee 60 percent of the loans, and interest are capped at 5 percent. As of November 3, almost 98 percent of the overall budgeted direct support measures had been paid out while the take up for the first guarantee scheme was 59 percent and for the second scheme 42 percent. A third smaller support package was adopted on August 13, providing an additional minimum wage to public transport workers who resumed work one month later than the rest. The measure costing Lk135m is accommodated within the existing transport budget.
A gradual easing of containment measured started in early June 2020. The authorities have continued to monitor and adapt the lockdown measures as needed, including during the second wave of the pandemic in Algeria in late 2020. International borders partially reopened in June 2021. The number of daily new cases, which had fallen sharply through late March 2021 following a peak during the second wave, is ticking up again. Algeria started the vaccination campaign in late-January 2021 and has since received additional doses through the COVAX Facility and other sources for a total of 2.7 million doses as at end-May 2021. Domestic production of the Sputnik V vaccine is expected to start in September, according to an official government announcement.
In terms of economic reforms, a national socio-economic recovery plan was discussed at a conference in August 2020. The authorities published a 2020-2024 Economic Revival plan in June 2021. Among other things the plan aims at diversifying the economy, fostering high value-added sectors and international trade and promoting a favorable business climate and FDI.
Reopening of the Economy. With the economy's re-opening and the start of the 2020 summer season, activity picked up but there was a resurgence of cases, with daily new infections almost tripling those of the first wave. To cope with the health crisis the government adopted more stringent social distancing measures in September 2020, which remained in place throughout October and were only partially relaxed in November and December in lieu of the improvement in COVID statistics. Despite the efforts to minimize the risk of transmission of COVID-19 during the holiday season, including by providing free antigen tests to all Andorran residents, active cases, deaths and hospitalizations increased significantly in January 2021. The health situation improved in February, which allowed for partial relaxation of some containment measures, but this reverted in March for various reasons: the spread of other variants of the virus, the higher social interaction due to the carnival holidays, and the impact of large outbreaks in two villages. Since then, new cases have sharply declined and there have not been any new deaths in the past two months. This has allowed the authorities to significantly relax containment measures, including ending the mandatory use of masks outdoors (except when social distancing cannot be maintained), increasing the maximum allowed capacity for indoor activities and social/cultural events, and authorizing bars and restaurants to extend their operating hours until 1am. Regarding mobility at the borders, the travel restrictions have been completely lifted by Spain in March 31st and only partially by France in May 3rd, the latter still requiring negative COVID tests for trips longer than 24 hours or that go beyond the neighboring French regions. The vaccination campaign started in January 20th. So far, the pace of vaccination has been comparable to that of EU countries facing similar problems of supply, and doses for more than half the population have arrived. About 55 percent of the population had received at least one dose, and 35 percent were fully vaccinated, by the end of June.
Supervisory and regulatory action. The financial supervisor, Andorran Financial Authority (AFA), adopted as its own the European Banking Authority guidelines on legislative and non-legislative moratoria. Furthermore, AFA adopted a set of measures, in line with the recommendations by the European Banking Authority and the European Central Bank, including: (i) limiting in situ examinations to only those strictly necessary and postpone the non-priority ones to 2021; (ii) postpone stress tests, which are supposed to be done at least every three years for supervisory purposes, to 2021 if conditions allow; (iii) postponing beyond the 2020 exercise the requirement of establishing a capital buffer for systemic risks, which was supposed to be introduced in January 2020; (iv) recommending banks to not distribute dividends from the 2019 exercise. The government also extended the deadline for banks to report on their audited balance sheets to AFA from March 31, 2020 to April 30, 2020.
Background. The first COVID-19 case was reported on March 21, 2020, while community transmission started on April 27. In June 2021, the authorities kept the existing flight restrictions, limited the operating workforce of governmental and private institutions up to 50 percent, shortened the school year and approved co-payment of Covid-19 tests for international and domestic business trips. By end-June, average daily cases reduced to 120 cases (7-days moving average) from the peak of 300 daily cases in end-May. Angola received 624,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine and over 100,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine delivered through the COVAX system, a donation of 200,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine from the Beijing Institute of Biological Products. As of end-June, about 1 million people had received the first dose and over 540,000 people had received the second dose. However, due to the shortage of doses, authorities have stop administering the first dose vaccination until the first half of July. The vaccination plan is estimated to cost US$ 217 million and aims to cover 20 percent of the population in the first phase. The Angolan government has authorized the purchase of additional 6 million doses of the Sputnik V vaccine, of which 40,000 were received. The World Bank, United Nations, European Union, African Development Bank and European Investment Bank are providing financial support and resources in several ways. In June 2021, the IMF approved the Fifth Review of the ongoing EFF program and disbursed US$ 772 million in budget support, accommodating Covid-19 vaccine procurement. 041b061a72