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World Bank reiterates support to overcome Pakistan’s energy challenges

By Our Correspondent
April 21, 2021

ISLAMABAD: The World Bank on Tuesday reiterated support to Pakistan for overcoming challenges in the energy sector and reaffirmed its commitment to assistance for the implementation of structural reforms.

World Bank Managing Director (Operations) Axel van Trotsenburg lauded the socioeconomic coverage extended to the marginalised sections of the society during Coronavirus pandemic. He held a virtual meeting Minister for Finance and Revenue Shaukat Tarin.

Federal Minister for Economic Affairs Division Omar Ayub Khan, Minister for Power Hammad Azhar, State Bank of Pakistan Governor Reza Baqir attended the meeting.

Tarin said the World Bank has always been a source of support in pursuing reform agenda and implementing various development projects for the country. He acknowledged the longstanding partnership and firm commitment of the World Bank as a major development partner for bringing essential reforms in priority areas including energy, fiscal and debt management and socio-economic development.

The finance minister shared a brief overview of the current economic situation and outlined several initiatives taken to accelerate economic recovery during COVID-19 pandemic. Pakistan converted current account deficit into surplus by adhering to a strict financial discipline. He also highlighted measures to be taken for effective resource mobilization, enhancing productivity and strengthening financial management in future. The Finance Minister reiterated the firm commitment of the government in undertaking reforms to achieve macroeconomic stability, build fiscal resilience and stimulate economic recovery amid COVID-19 and in post COVID scenario.

The meeting was briefed about the efforts underway in the energy sector for bringing efficiency into the system by eliminating inefficient power plants to improve service delivery. The meeting was told about the reforms introduced in the power sector to make it dynamic and sustainable. Government is firm to achieving efficiency in production as well as transmission of electricity.

Meanwhile, the finance minister said Ehsaas program is one of the largest social protection programs in the world which is critically acclaimed by the development partners. The emergency cash program has played a significant role in mitigating the economic hardships of the marginalized groups of the society.

In a meeting with Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety Sania Nishtar, Tarin proposed replacement of untargeted subsidies with targeted ones to make it more sustainable in the long run.

At present, the program provides Rs12,000 each to more than 15 million deserving families.

The meeting was briefed about provision of subsidies for the beneficiaries through a chain of Utility Stores outlets across Pakistan and local grocery stores.

The underlying rationale is to support the under-privileged and marginalized households through targeted subsidisation policy with focus on poverty reduction and women empowerment.