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World Bank to launch $145m corona response, locust control projects in Sindh

Peshawar

May 20, 2020

KARACHI: The World Bank and the Sindh government have agreed to launch a COVID-19 response programme and a locust control project in the province for $145 million (approximately Rs23.2 billion).

This decision was taken during a video conference between Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah and World Bank Country Director for Pakistan Patchamuthu Illangovan on Monday. The former participated from the Chief Minister House in Karachi while the latter and with his team from their Islamabad office. At the outset of the meeting, CM Shah said his government wants to launch a COVID-19 impact programme with the technical and financial assistance of the WB. The chief executive said the WB’s portfolio will be required for resource mobilisation through diversion of funds, restructuring,

repurposing and realigning. He added that the WB team has also been working on the high frequency of COVID impact monitoring system to support government decision-making. He said a Karachi-specific monitoring system is being developed, but he suggested to the WB that he wants a high-impact COVID monitoring system to be developed for the entire province. According to the CM, his government has planned to disinfect all the public places, bus stops and offices, properly clean all the roads and other public areas as well as storm water drains and other nalas, and establish two garbage transfer stations and landfill sites each in the city. The WB chief approved the proposal and said the provincial government may use funds of $135 million from its different projects by diverting the amount until the project is formally approved by the relevant forums.

Small loans

CM Shah said the novel coronavirus crisis has badly affected economic activities across the province. He said small- and medium-sized enterprises have faced considerable losses, so his government has planned to extend small loans and financial support to daily-wagers.

The WB assured him that they will support the Sindh government in reviving economic activities in the province and rehabilitating daily-wagers through a separate programme that will be made part of the COVID-19 response programme.

Locust attacks

The chief executive said that after COVID-19, another threat in the form of locust attacks on standing crops has emerged. He said locust swarms have already damaged a third of the cropping area of the province. He also said his government wants the WB to technically and financially support it, so crops and desert areas can be sprayed at the earliest, otherwise locust swarm attacks will destroy the crops and develop food insecurity across the province.

The WB approved $10 million for the locust control programme, advising the provincial government to divert the funds from the Sindh Agriculture Growth Project and start the locust control project. The financial institution will arrange more funds for the agriculture growth project.

Renewable energy

The CM and the WB chief also discussed renewable energy projects. The financial institution will support the provincial government in developing solar and wind power projects. Sindh Energy Minster Imtiaz Shaikh briefed the meeting about the renewable projects under way across the province and also discussed options of hybrid renewable power projects.