ISLAMABAD, Dec 22: The World Bank has agreed to offer $1 billion over a period of three year for rehabilitation of the irrigation system, says a senior official of the ministry of finance.

“In fact this World Bank funding, which has been on offer since mid-1990s can also be used for improving drainage programmes in the provinces”, he said on Monday.

He said that the government was finalizing details in this regard as the country’s irrigation system was experiencing problems because of leakages and non-repair of barrages.

He said while the Asian Development Bank had expressed its willingness to finance new infrastructure projects, including new roads in Balochistan, the World Bank’s assistance for the rehabilitation of irrigation system would help increase the overall agricultural productivity.

However, a source in the local multi-lateral agency said that the World Bank’s offer has been renewed on the premise that it would help increase the pace of reforms and improve the public service delivery.

He said provincial infrastructure deficits (roads, irrigation, drainages and municipal services) have increased the cost of doing business and that vital irrigation water services were unreliable and controlled by “non-transparent and unresponsive” government departments.

The official said that the government was also separately seeking World Bank’s assistance for poverty alleviation and infrastructure development.

“Although the Bank has increased Pakistan’s annual assistance from about $800 million to $1 billion, our strategy is to place before the Bank’s management new viable development projects for increased assistance”, he said.

The official said that after the expiry of IMF’s PRGF programme late next year, the ADB was expected to offer additional assistance for poverty alleviation.

He said that improving the government’s effectiveness at federal, provincial and district levels would remain the World Bank’s assistance strategy.

The World Bank, he said, has been extending necessary financial assistance for macroeconomic stabilisation programme to restore fiscal sustainability, reduce internal and external debt and improve the competitiveness of the economy through supportive trade, monetary and exchange rate policies.

The Bank, he said, was expected to continue offering assistance for governance and regulatory framework for power, gas, oil and financial sector.

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