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World Bank loans $400mln for green investments, institutional building

By Our Correspondent
May 30, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Government on Tuesday signed two financing agreements worth $400 million with the World Bank to promote green investments and strengthen institutional performance for infrastructure development in Punjab.

One loan is worth $200 million for Punjab cities program and another is of $200 million for Punjab green development program. Last week, the World Bank committed $728 million for four projects, including Punjab cities and green development programs.

Syed Ghazanfar Abbas Jilani, secretary of Economic Affairs Division, representatives of the provincial government and Patchamuthu Illangovan, country director of the World Bank signed the financing and program/operation agreements.

Punjab cities program aims to strengthen the performance of participating urban local governments in urban management and service delivery. The program will support strengthening of institutional performance and the carrying out of eligible infrastructure investments. The project aims to strengthen urban local governments’ ability to deliver green municipal infrastructure and services in 16 cities benefitting 4.1 million people across the country’s largest province.

The program will also build systems to improve transparency, accountability, and responsiveness of the city governments. The objectives of the Punjab green development program are to strengthen environmental governance and promote green investments in the province. Activities under the first results area will aim to restructure the environment protection department (EPD), reform the environmental regulatory regime, and build the EPD’s capacity to deliver transparent and efficient environmental management services to the private sector and to the public. Activities under the second results area aim to promote selected green investments in both the public and private sectors and develop green financing schemes to finance such investments beyond the implementation period of the program.

The World Bank said multiple factors, such as rapid population growth, industrialisation, urbanisation, and motorisation are causing degradation of environment and pollution in Pakistan. The country ranked 169 out of 180 countries in on Yale’s 2018 Environmental Performance Index. It ranked 177 on the environmental health sub-index gauging air quality, water and sanitation, and exposure to heavy metals. Pakistan is only ahead of India, Nepal, and Bangladesh on the index.

The World Bank said pollution is estimated to cause around 340,000 deaths per year in Pakistan, more than 70 percent of which are due to air pollution. “This represents a quarter of total annual deaths in the country, making Pakistan one of the world’s most affected countries,” the bank said in a report. “Furthermore, energy consumption in Pakistan has grown rapidly, contributing to increased emissions of both greenhouse gases and associated air pollutants.”

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