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April 3, 2021

World Bank content with streamlining of ongoing projects

Business

April 3, 2021

ISLAMABAD: The World Bank on Friday expressed satisfaction over the arrival of ongoing projects in Pakistan back on track shelving its apprehension over the inhibited progress as the country returned to IMF’s loan program after a year’s hiatus.

World Bank Country Director Najy Benhassine made a courtesy call on the newly-appointed Minister for Finance and Revenue Hammad Azhar at the finance division, according to a statement. Benhassine complimented the finance minister on assuming the additional responsibilities and thanked the government “for streamlining processes for the completion of various projects which are of bilateral interest”. Hot on the heels of restoration of International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) loan program, the statement of the Washington-based lender is a signal that the projects financed by the bank are overcoming hurdles in their timely completion.

The IMF in March disbursed $500 million to Pakistan under a three-year extended fund facility of $6 billion following resumption of reviews that were delayed since last year. This was complemented by oversubscription to Pakistan’s dollar bonds of $2.5 billion.

The World Bank in the past called for acceleration in execution of projects. The bank’s country partnership strategy for FY2015-2020 for Pakistan with four priority areas of energy, private sector development, inclusion, and service delivery has the current portfolio of 46 projects with a net commitment of $9.1 billion.

While welcoming the country director, the finance minister acknowledged the pivotal role being played by the World Bank in implementing a series of reforms aimed at strengthening the social sector, broadening the tax base, harmonising general sales tax, improving fiscal and debt management in the country. The finance minister reiterated the firm commitment of the government in implementing the reform agenda for socio-economic development of its people as envisioned by the leadership. The continued support of the World Bank is critical for Pakistan to achieve strong, sustainable and inclusive growth, he added. The government’s focus would be on pursuing social, financial and economic management, strengthening the social sectors, enhancing tax revenue generation and setting the energy sector in order, he added.

The minister lauded the World Bank’s IDA financing for the crisis-resilient social protection program to expand the poverty alleviation and social safety ‘Ehsaas program’ in order to protect the vulnerable households and increase resilience to economic shocks such as COVID-19 pandemic. He also appreciated the World Bank’s funding for the Prime Minister’s green stimulus initiative to boost green jobs for workers who have been laid off during COVID-19.