Lenders offer more loans for energy, vaccines

Published November 10, 2021
Asian Development Bank's Director General for Central & West Asia Department Eugenue Zukhov meets Finance Adviser Shaukat Tarin at the Finance Division in Islamabad on Tuesday. — PID
Asian Development Bank's Director General for Central & West Asia Department Eugenue Zukhov meets Finance Adviser Shaukat Tarin at the Finance Division in Islamabad on Tuesday. — PID

ISLAMABAD: Two major multilateral institutions –– the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank – are exploring avenues to sell more loans to Pakistan and their senior level delegations had back-to-back meetings with various cabinet members on Tuesday.

As part of these interactions, the ADB has formally offered $700 million worth of another loan for Covid-19 vaccination on top of an ongoing $500m loan for procurement of vaccines.

A separate delegation of the World Bank also discussed various infrastructure, energy, clean drinking water, drainage, education, health-related projects already being funded by the World Bank.

According to official statements, ADB’s Director General for Central & West Asia Department Eugenue Zukhov held separate meetings with Minister for Economic Affairs Omar Ayub Khan and Finance Adviser Shaukat Tarin.

Simultaneously, a World Bank delegation led by South Asia Regional Director for Infrastructure Guangzhe Chen also had a detailed engagement with Planning Minister Asad Umar on Tuesday and would follow up with other ministries.

During his meeting with the economic affairs minister Mr. Zhukov of ADB said “additional financing of $700m is currently available for Pakistan to procure Covid-19 vaccines under ADB’s APVAX facility”. He also reiterated ADB’s plans to provide Pakistan about $10bn in fresh assistance for various development projects, particularly in the sectors of urban services, disaster-risk reduction and policy-based programmes in the next five years.

The official also renewed ADB’s commitment to support the government’s reform agenda and to speed up the economic recovery process amid Covid-19 pandemic.

Mr Ayub acknowledged the ADB’s $500m support for procurement of Covid vaccine and reported that the government was committed to providing maximum vaccination coverage to eligible population.

He also pointed out that given rapid urbanisation and population growth, urban services sector was a high priority of the government and was working on improving urban infrastructure and services including water & sanitation services, public transport, urban flooding & disaster management and health facilities. At present, ADB is financing 32 development projects amounting to $6.4bn in energy, road & transport, agriculture & irrigation, urban services, education, health and social protection.

He said his ministry had not only significantly improved performance of ongoing projects by removing major bottlenecks including delays in land acquisition, right of way issues and hiring of project staff, but had also undertaken an internal exercise to weed out non-performing projects to redirect resources towards more sustainable projects.

The minister suggested new areas for ADB’s assistance including support for the provision of basic amenities ie energy, roads and urban services etc to the erstwhile FATA region which had been merged into Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Mr Zhukov also met Mr Tarin and reported that 80pc of the funds allocated for procurement of vaccines had been disbursed and ready to provide additional funds if required.

Published in Dawn, November 10th, 2021

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