World Bank likely to enhance assistance for economic reforms in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD:

The World Bank has appreciated the government’s ongoing reform efforts, particularly in the power, governance and financial sectors, and may enhance its assistance to support the reforms process besides balancing a mix between project mode of financing and programme lending.

Hartwig Schafer, Vice President of World Bank Group for South Asia Region, during a video conference with Economic Affairs Minister Khusro Bakhtiar, also praised the government initiatives to successfully combat and curtail the impact of Covid-19 pandemic.

During the virtual meeting, the two sides discussed the performance of the World Bank’s ongoing portfolio in Pakistan besides the probable initiatives in the near future. Schafer confirmed World Bank’s continuous support to the government of Pakistan at this difficult time.

At the outset of the meeting, Schafer appreciated the government’s ongoing reform efforts, particularly in the power, governance and financial sectors that would possibly allow Pakistan to unleash the growth potential and help a faster post-Covid-19 recovery.

Responding to a proposal from Bakhtiar, he amenably agreed to enhance the World Bank’s assistant for Pakistan to support the ongoing reforms besides balancing a mix between project mode of financing and programme lending.

Bakhtiar appreciated the World Bank’s continuous support to Pakistan and assured them that government was committed to continue structural reforms in multiple areas of economy, governance and institutions.

He appreciated the World Bank Group’s proposed $12 billion initiative to help developing countries procure Covid-19 vaccines to treat up to 1 billion people as soon as the effective drugs become available. Schafer assured due support to Pakistan under this initiative.

The minister also held a separate virtual meeting with Alfonso Garcia, Regional Vice President of the International Finance Corporation (IFC) for Asia and the Pacific and appreciated the IFC’s initiatives in Pakistan.

He urged the IFC management to enhance their investment volume in Pakistan, particularly in the infrastructure, housing and tourism sectors. He emphasised that the focus of the government remained on private sector-led growth, therefore, the IFC support for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic, should be a priority.

Garcia appreciated the government’s ongoing reforms efforts and accepted the invitation from Bakhtyar to visit Pakistan in the coming months to explore avenues for further enhancing the IFC interventions in Pakistan.

The two consecutive meetings between the minister and senior officials of the World Bank Group, were held on the sidelines of the virtual meetings of the senior management of Group in connection with the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank Group.

Special assistant to prime minister on petroleum, governor and deputy governor of State Bank of Pakistan and high ranking officials of the economic affairs division, finance division, Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and the Pakistan embassy in USA were also present during the meetings.

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