Dear Brothers and Sisters
Ramadan Mubarak, wishing you all the blessings of this Holy Month
- It is indeed my true pleasure to speak to you all today, although in a different format than what we are used to.
- As you all are aware, we are going through very difficult and challenging time, a time that we have never experienced before, a time that we will never forget.
- We are in the midst of global pandemic that is inflicting extreme sufferings on people and societies across the globe. Health systems are unable to cope, economic activities are at halt, schools are closed, people are locked down in their houses, many are suffering from hunger. Everyone is personally experiencing it.
- I feel it very deeply. And I want to express my personal feelings with you today, apart from updating you on what steps and actions we are collectively taking to address the situation.
- I myself feel the difficult conditions and the pressures under which we are working these days. I am fully aware that some of you are staying alone, far from your families, due to travel restrictions. Realising the difficulties, I have wholeheartedly given permission to staff to join their families and work from their home countries. I have also written to our Governor in the Kingdom to help facilitate our staff and families, who are stranded outside, to return and reunite with their families.
- Alhamdullilah, despite the difficult conditions, I am very pleased that we, as a leading Bank Group of the Ummah, have risen high to collectively support our institution and our people in the Member Countries. I am proud of this.
- I am happy with the efforts, dedication and commitment shown by all of you in what we have achieved so far. I am personally thankful to each of you for your contributions and achievements not only on our regular on-going work but most importantly for swiftly responding to COVID-19 challenge.
- You are the ones who made this possible to quickly develop the Bank Group’s Response Package, you are the ones who are making efforts to deliver the package in the best possible manner, you are the ones who are bringing new ideas and initiatives to the benefit of all. You are the owner of these praiseworthy achievements. I am only helping, guiding and facilitating you, as a leader of the institution
- I would also very much like to hear from you. The Senior Leadership team are always interested to know what is working well and what could be improved in our collective ways of working or understanding of how we are trying to fulfil the IsDB’s mission. I am therefore pleased to inform you that we have begun working in collaboration with an independent expert research agency, to help us gather and analyse all our collective views and opinions. The main part of the project will be an anonymous online staff survey that will be sent to all employees via email. Once the survey has been completed, the research company will conduct focus group discussions with employees to discuss and understand the reasons behind the results. This work will help us continually improve and move forward positively as a collective organisation. Please look out for the staff survey email in the next few weeks.
- I am very pleased to mention that our digital branding of the Bank through our Digitisation Project is paying off now, in a big way. COVID-19 has tested the power of digitisation. We would not have been able to work from home under the on-going emergency situation without the new systems and mechanisms brought by the digitisation project.
- We have moved forward on all fronts. Let me highlight some of the strategic, administrative and operational actions that we as a Bank Group have undertaken.
IsDB Group’s COVID-19 Response – Our Internal Actions
- The Bank Group, as whole, acted swiftly to develop and coordinate the strongest possible response to the COVID-19 crisis. All members of the IsDB Group, ITFC, ICD, ICIEC, IRTI, have come together to join hands and to create more synergy in practical manner. We established a High-Level IsDB Group Committee to collectively plan, oversee, facilitate and fast-track the IsDB Group’s response. The Committee is meeting twice a week to discuss, guide and monitor the progress on our response package.
- To provide technical support to the High-Level Committee, we established Four dedicated Technical Working Groups (with representatives from the Bank and the Entities) to coordinate the Bank Group-wide Operational Aspects, Financial Aspects, Risk Management Aspects, and Collaborations with MDBs, International Organisations and G-20 Summit. These Working Groups are meeting frequently to bring solutions to the on-going challenges.
- Also, we have established a dedicated Facilitation Team to facilitate the delivery of our response package more speedily. The Team is addressing all obstacles and barriers that may come on way in the delivery process by suggesting out of box solutions. Considering the special circumstances, I have given special waiver on some operational policies to fast track our delivery.
Business Continuity Management (BCM)
- As you are aware, we have put our Business Continuity Management (BCM) plan into full action, to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 on safety and security of our staff, Bank Group’s assets and business activities.
- I am very pleased that the BCM Committees have been very active, meeting on daily basis to swiftly address the issues ranging from IT support to home delivery of medicines to staff HR matters and admin services. You have seen the frequent circular from the BCM to update all staff.
- As you are witnessing, our brothers and sisters are exerting efforts to arrange virtual knowledge events, awareness sessions and training programs. The staff Social Club have been active in organising social events virtually. Last week, I was pleased that more than 700 staff and family members participated in Virtual Ramadan gathering organised by the Social Club.
- We are providing regular updates to our Board of Directors and Board of Governors on the efforts we are making, the actions and initiatives we are taking to address the challenges.
IsDB Group’s COVID-19 Response – our external response
- As you are aware, the health impacts of the Pandemic on the IsDB Member Countries has been uneven so far. Yet, most of our member countries have been severely hit by reduced economic activities, collapse in oil and commodity prices, fall in remittances and tourism receipts, as well as trade and supply chain disruptions. The lockdowns in the countries are inflicting great damage on businesses and the most vulnerable segments of society, disrupting social cohesion and even the law and order in some cases.
- Given the serious economic impact of the crisis on the global economy and on our Member Countries, the IsDB Group acted swiftly to launch a ‘Strategic Preparedness and Response Package (SPRP) to support our member countries mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Our Response Package of US$2.3 billion adopts a holistic approach focusing on short, medium, and long-term needs. Of this Package, we have already committed US$1.86 billion to 27 Member Countries.
- The Response Package is designed under the “3Rs” Framework: ‘Respond, Restore, and Restart’ Tracks.
- a. Respond Track provides immediate support by focusing on strengthening health systems and dealing with emergency needs; building capacity in production of testing kits and vaccines; and building Pandemic Preparedness Capacity.
- b. Restore Track focuses on medium-term actions through financing trade and SMEs, to sustain activity in core strategic value chains, and ensure continuity of the necessary supplies, mainly to health and food sectors and other essential commodities.
- c. Restart Track will deliver long-term support to build resilient economies on solid foundations and catalyse private investment by supporting economic recovery and growth.
Tailored support to our Member Countries
- Over the past few weeks, I have held virtual meetings with our member countries to discuss their specific needs and assess their challenges. So far, I have held 42 virtual meetings with the IsDB Governors or Heads of States, with 37 of them asking for support from IsDB.
- Our financing is tailored to the country needs in addressing health emergencies, sustaining and reviving economic and social sectors and building resilience of member countries in responding to outbreaks and pandemics in the future.
- We are committed to investing in research and development and providing technical assistance for development of innovative solutions to prevent and contain the Pandemic. Science, Technology and Innovation is, of course, to play a major role in helping fight the rapid spread of COVID-19, by fast tracking and scaling-up the development, production and availability of diagnostics, medicine and vaccines.
- Our STI Department is working with global partners on initiatives that will equip IsDB member countries with technology and expertise for providing early and accurate analysis about the spread of COVID-19; screening people for infection; streamlining the delivery of medical supplies to remote or quarantined areas; transferring technology to enable workers to work remotely from home, and applying online teaching technology to educational institutions.
- We are also using our Reverse Linkage Programme facility to share lessons, best practices and technical expertise from other member countries in strengthening the response and management of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
- Our Group Entities have come together to support the private sector in response to the crisis and to minimise its impact on SMEs to sustain economic development.
- I am pleased that we have launched the “COVID-19 Global Coordination Platform” enabled by blockchain technology to support the Member Countries in the fight against the COVID-19 Pandemic. The Online Platform will ensure greater efficiency, transparency and better governance. It will allow strategic partners to share relevant information regarding their responses and actions and to see first-hand project end-to-end supply chain. The Platform will also help the Bank mobilise much needed financial resources.
Encouraging Global Action
- Through the initiatives, I have just mentioned, we are showing our individual leadership. But addressing the ongoing devastation caused by the Pandemic requires global solidarity and concerted efforts by the multilateral development system. Since the breakout of COVID-19, we have been in close and regular contact with other Multilateral Development Organisations including AsDB, AfDB, AIIB, World Bank, the UN, WHO, Arab Coordination Group, OrganiSation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), International NGOs, among others.
- As the current Chair of the Heads of MDBs, I have hosted a virtual meeting with the heads of Multilateral Development Banks and the International Monetary Fund.
- During the meeting, I emphasised the importance of having open dialogue particularly at times when member countries expect leaders to provide the most impactful response to health, economic and financial challenges caused by COVID-19. Also, I emphasiSed on the MDBs to collectively showcase their crucial roles and contributions in supporting the countries to achieve the SDGs, under the 2030 agenda.
- The IsDB Group has been well-represented during the recent G20 Summit meetings under the current Chairmanship of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. These meetings have shown very encouraging signs of an emerging global synergy. Multilateral financial institutions have individually pledged significant support to their Member Countries
- Health Ministers are also taking coordinated action. I was recently invited to give a keynote speech at the H20 Digital Dialogue series organised by the G20 Health and Development Partnerships. I was encouraged that many of those taking part in the meeting expressed interest to partner with IsDB to enhance access to healthcare and diagnostic services in IsDB member countries.
- We are also closely coordinating with the Arab Coordination Group, for collective response to COVID-19. Very soon, the Group will announce its combined financing package of around US$10 billion.
- I believe these international collaborations will be vital to control this Pandemic and rebuild resilience of the countries. I will continue to encourage multinational efforts in the coming weeks, continuing my conversations with Heads of States, UN agencies, G20 members, Arab Coordination Group and many other global leaders.
Communications and Marketing
- Communications are critical for such collaborations. As you are aware, there has been a huge amount of communications from all corners of our organisation in the last few weeks. The communications team have been showcasing all our activities and initiatives so the IsDB demonstrates our strong leadership, significant actions and reassurance to the core audience groups, both internally and externally. The team has created a dedicated COVID-19 section of the IsDB website for regular updates and has also generated a significant amount of media coverage to promote all our work and initiatives. The potential reach of our coverage to date stands at over 120 million people, primarily through online articles from Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Europe.
- Let me conclude by saying that the world is fast changing its direction. The Post-COVID world will be very different. We have to understand, adjust ourselves and adapt to new conditions and realities, which will soon become new norm. We have no choice but to change. We must be ready and rise as leaders for tomorrow to make even bigger difference in the lives of our people.
- Technology is the key to our future, both for the organisations and for the development work we do in our member countries. If we don’t invest in technology and promote innovations now, both internally and externally, we will be left behind. Train will not wait for us.\
- I am confident, we at the IsDB Group will continue to show our leadership and work together with the global development community to devise and implement solutions to support our countries, especially the ones that are suffering the most.
- Let us rise, together uphold the noble cause, morals and values of the Islamic Development Bank Group and help our Brothers and Sisters of Ummah who are looking towards us for the support they very much deserve during these very difficult times.
Thank you once again for all your hard work in helping us steer through this crisis.
I am now happy to take some questions.