Tuesday May 19, 2020
ISLAMABAD: The World Bank and Pakistan signed two loan agreements worth $371 million to finance projects in agriculture and social sectors, reported The News.
Minister for Economic Affairs Khusro Bakhtiar witnessed the signing ceremony of the two agreements. Ministry’s Secretary Noor Ahmed signed the financing agreements, while representatives of governments of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa signed their respective project agreements online. World Bank Country Director Patchamuthu Illangovan signed the projects’ agreements on behalf of the World Bank. Bakhtiar thanked the World Bank for extending continuous support to the government in its efforts to achieve sustainable economic development in the country.
Illangovan appreciated the commitment of the government to develop the underprivileged areas of the country and the betterment of the health and education sectors. The bank would continue to cooperate with Pakistan for sustainable economic growth and development projects, he said.
One agreement signed between the World Bank and Pakistan was to support human capital accumulation in Punjab by an early investment project. The objective of the project is to increase the utilisation of quality health services and economic and social inclusion programs among poor and vulnerable households in the select districts in Punjab. The total approved cost of the project is $330 million, including World Bank financing of $200 million.
“The project will strengthen the quality of primary healthcare services, introduce a conditional cash transfer program, support economic inclusion for a young parent, strengthen the quality of early childhood education and lower primary education, and increase the efficiency and sustainability of Punjab’s pro-poor initiatives,” a statement said.
“The project will address gaps in human endowments by promoting skilled birth attendance, immunisation, school enrollment for early education and addressing constraints for income-generating activities and diversification of income sources,” it said, adding, the project would target the 11, out of 36, most vulnerable districts of Punjab. Among the 11 districts, 8 districts are from South Punjab, where poor households are concentrated.
The other loan agreement called the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa irrigated agriculture improvement project was aimed at improving the performance of irrigated agriculture for farmers in the province. The total cost of the project is $219.3 million. The World Bank would finance $171 million and the remaining cost would be borne by the provincial government.
“The development objective of the project will be achieved through multiple aspects of performance: improving the performance of on-farm water management by rehabilitating watercourses, introducing advanced irrigation technologies, and strengthening the capacity of communities, farmers and the on-farm water management directorate, and improving the performance of agriculture by raising productivity and prospects for value addition by strengthening farmers’ capacity and filling existing knowledge gaps regarding priority agriculture value chains,” said the statement. The project would cover all districts and tehsils of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, as well as the newly merged federally-administered tribal areas.
Originally published in The News