WB reallocates $150m to Pakistan for procuring Covid-19 vaccines

Published August 4, 2021
World Bank’s South Asia Regional Vice President Hartwig Schafer calls on Economic Affairs Minister Omar Ayub Khan on Tuesday. — Photo courtesy PID website
World Bank’s South Asia Regional Vice President Hartwig Schafer calls on Economic Affairs Minister Omar Ayub Khan on Tuesday. — Photo courtesy PID website

ISLAMABAD: The World Bank on Tuesday conveyed reallocation of $150 million funds to Pakistan for procurement of Covid-19 vaccines.

“The WB is fully committed to providing assistance to developing countries for the procurement of Covid-19 vaccines and for the purpose $150 million has been reallocated for Pakistan,” said an official statement quoting World Bank’s South Asia Regional Vice President Hartwig Schafer.

Mr Hartwig, along with WB’s Country Director for Pakistan Najy Benhassine, had separate meetings with Minister for Finance Shaukat Tarin and Minister for Economic Affairs Omar Ayub Khan on Tuesday.

Both ministers acknowledged the significant contribution of the World Bank to the socio-economic development of Pakistan since the 1950s and appreciated the World Bank Group’s proposed $12 billion initiative to help developing countries procure Covid-19 vaccines to treat up to one billion people.

The finance minister appreciated the pivotal role being played by the World Bank in strengthening governance and service delivery in Pakistan through institutional reforms currently being undertaken.

The statement quoted Mr Hartwig as supporting the reform agenda undertaken by the government and acknowledging the efforts made by Pakistan for effective management of the Covid-19 crisis. He also appreciated Pakistan’s commitment to cleaner and greener environment and called for the reform momentum to be sustained in the country.

The meeting reviewed progress on World Bank’s ongoing programmes — Resilient Institutions for Sustainable Economy-II and Programme for Affordable and Clean Energy — as these programmes hold a central position in the government’s social and economic reform paradigm. It was observed that the programmes are progressing satisfactorily.

The economic affairs minister discussed with the World Bank delegation the ongoing portfolio, economic reforms and development priorities for the upcoming country partnership framework (2022-26).

The meeting was informed that about 57 projects worth $12.9bn were being implemented under WB’s financing in the priority areas such as education, health, social protection, finance, agriculture, energy and communication across the country. During the last financial year, Pakistan signed 16 projects worth $3.64bn with the World Bank.

Discussing the future interventions, Omar Ayub stressed the need for enhanced connectivity in rural areas though improved road and digital networks, besides cold storages to control the post-harvest losses and price fluctuations of perishable commodities.

The minister proposed to the World Bank to provide technical and financial support to build digital infrastructure, including fibre optics network and incubation centers for specialised training and certification of IT experts, under the next five-year country assistance strategy.

Published in Dawn, August 4th, 2021

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