ADB commits $6bn funding for Pakistan

Asian Development Bank (ADB) has committed $6bn in financing for Pakistan’s infrastructure developments over the next three years under its upcoming country partnership strategy, sources said yesterday. “The ADB has been preparing three years’ CPS for 2019-2021 with resource allocation of $6bn ($2bn on each year basis),” said a well-placed source privy to meetings between Werner Liepach, director general (DG) for Central and West Asia Department ADB and the government officials. “The purpose of DG’s visit (was) to align priorities in accordance with the manifesto of newly-elected PTI- (Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf) led regime.”

The sources said the visiting DG ADB who has flown back after three-day visit, expressed concerns over some projects of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) during a meeting. Mainline and Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) could not make much progress under CPEC. Manila-based lender was interested to undertake KCR along with Japan International Co-operation Agency, they added.The ADB is also interested to undertake financing of projects like bus rapid transport in Karachi, multibillion dollars Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India gas pipeline and other infrastructure projects under the upcoming three years (2019 to 2021) country partnership strategy (CPS). The old CPS is going to cease its existence in 2018.

Liepach said the government has much more emphasis on social sector initiatives and is more inclined towards executing social sector initiatives through indigenous funding or soft grant options.“ADB appreciates this approach and is strongly committed for future mutual co-operation keeping in view the government’s priorities by offering concessional funding,” an official statement quoted him as saying during a meeting with Secretary Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) Omar Hamid Khan. ADB also committed $300mn for BISP under its country operations business plan. “This funding will be used for up-scaling of the ongoing programmes and launching of new BISP initiatives, especially targeted towards poverty alleviation and gender empowerment,” the statement said.

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“The Asian Development Bank has been preparing three years’ country partnership strategy with Pakistan for 2019-2021 with resource allocation of $6bn ($2bn on each year basis),” said Werner Liepach, director general for Central and West Asia Department at ADB.

Liepach said the portfolio review of the ADB financed projects of BISP would be accelerated to enable preparation for the upcoming projects. Khan said ADB has a pivotal role in supporting women empowerment and poverty reduction in the country. Meanwhile, ADB’s delegation met with the officials of the ministry of planning. Planning Minister Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar seeks ADB’s further co-operation in education, health, water, energy and infrastructure especially under developed areas of the country. Bakhtiar said the government is committed to take necessary measures to eradicate poverty, provide more education and healthcare facilities, ensuring equal opportunities of development and providing easy access through modern transportation with the special focus on under developed areas across the country.

“The government is working on the plans for low cost housing for a common man.” The minister said the national transportation policy and its implementation is one of the key priorities of the government. The policy includes railway master and national highway authority plans, which would make the connectivity easier and cost effective offering more opportunities for business and trade and further act as the key enabler for sustainable development and growth. Bakhtiar also informed the ADB’s delegation about the government’s vision of restructuring the public sector and improving the government for more efficient service delivery. The ADB yesterday also approved a $100mn loan to address chronic water shortages and increase earnings on farms in Balochistan.

The Balochistan’s water resources development sector project will focus on improving irrigation infrastructure and water resource management in the Zhob and Mula river basins. Agriculture sector accounts for almost two-thirds of Balochistan’s economic output and employs 60% of the province’s 13mn population, but frequent drought and poor water management has put the industry, and those who rely on it, at risk. Poverty rates in the province are almost double the national average. “Agriculture is the backbone of Balochistan’s economy,” ADB Principal Water Resources Specialist Yaozhou Zhou said in a statement.

Sources and photo-credits: Intranews, Gulf Times