The World Bank (WB) has said that managing uncertainty and preparing for future crises will be the centre of bilateral meetings with Pakistani authorities and also during IMF/ World Bank spring meeting to be held from April 18-23, 2022.
In a letter to Minister for Economic Affairs, Omar Ayub Khan, World Bank’s Vice President, South Asia Region, Hartwig Schafer has hoped that he would have the opportunity to meet him and his delegation on the occasion of Spring Meeting.
Schafer intended to visit Pakistani during the last week of current month but due to non-availability of concerned authorities he held a phone conversation with Economic Affairs Minister to agree on a set of priorities to be discussed during the upcoming bilateral exchange at the Spring Meeting.
“World Bank support to helping Pakistan toward a green, resilient, and inclusive recovery; preparing for future crises and managing uncertainty will be at the centre of the Spring Meeting and, of course, our bilateral meetings,” he added.
Following last discussions in October, he has sought an update on: (i) the pending reforms related to two Development Policy Financing (DPF) operations Second Program for Affordable and Clean Energy (PACE DPF series) and the Second Resilient Institutions for Sustainable Economy (RISE-II); (ii) the macroeconomic framework and outlook on fiscal sustainability that will allow for budget support operations to Pakistan, including the newly proposed Climate Resilience DPF; (iii) further steps taken towards portfolio monitoring and accelerating achievement of results in the portfolio through efficient use of unspent IDA/ IBRD resources; and (iv) issues related to the remaining pipeline operations to be approved in FY22.
“We are looking to present the new Country Partnership Framework (CPF) 2023- 2027 to the World Bank Board in June 2022 which aims to focus on fewer areas for greater impact and increase the share of the portfolio on human capital development, the climate agenda and economic growth,” he maintained.
According to Schafer, Spring Meeting will also be an opportunity to discuss the status of Pakistan’s World Bank portfolio. The portfolio has a large transformative potential with 56 projects (excluding DPFs) and a total commitment of $13 billion ($ 8.5 billion IDA, $4.2 billion IBRD, $ 0.3 billion Trust Funds), almost 55% of which was committed since FY19. The current un-disbursed balance is $8.6 billion ($5.9 billion from financing approved since FY19 and $2.7 billion in pre-FY 19 commitments, mainly in large infrastructure contracts with gradual disbursement profile). The World Bank Vice President, South Asia Region, has also sought Minister’s help for getting the Electricity Distribution Efficiency Improvement Project declared effective to maintain the momentum on the government’s power sector reform program. This project was signed on December 23, 2021 and needs to be effective during last week of current month.
“I would also urge you (Minister) to ensure that the three recently Board approved housing projects (Pakistan Housing Finance, Additional Financing Punjab Urban Land Systems Enhancement Project, and Punjab Affordable Housing Program approved) are signed and made effective on time,” he continued.
The Banks further stated that in the beginning of this Fiscal Year (FY) 2022, the last fiscal year of the IDA 19 cycle, Pakistan had access to approximately S1.2 billion and an indicative IBRD amount of about $800 million.