The World Bank Group is preparing a new five-year support program for Pakistan, the Country Partnership Framework (CPF) for 2022/26, with a particular emphasis on structural reforms, health, education, creating a climate-friendly future, equitable growth, and good governance.
During a week-long visit to Pakistan by World Bank Vice President for South Asia Hartwig Schafer, which ended on Sunday, he met with Pakistani government functionaries to discuss the country’s priorities for the next few years.
According to a World Bank release, the CPF framework was informed by broad-based stakeholder engagements to assist guarantee alignment with the country’s priorities.
Consultations were held with the federal and provincial governments, lawmakers, the commercial sector, civil society organizations, particularly women and youth groups, the media and academia, and development partners throughout the visit, according to the statement.
“I am pleased to see widespread support for the new Country Partnership Framework’s direction, which is centered on human capital development, specifically ensuring health and education for girls and boys to give them the best possible start; promoting a cleaner and more climate-resilient future; fostering more equitable and inclusive growth; and strengthening governance,” Schafer said.
Naveed Baloch, the World Bank’s Pakistan alternate executive director, and Najy Benhassine, the World Bank’s Country Director for Pakistan, joined Schafer in his discussions.
During his visit, Schafer met with Prime Minister Imran Khan to discuss the critical reforms. The government’s ambitious objectives for human capital investment, social protection, and job development were also discussed. The World Bank has given its assistance to guarantee that new projects such as “Kamyab Pakistan” benefit from international experience and global knowledge, and that they be executed in a focused, impactful, and fiscally sustainable manner.
In talks with Ministers of Finance and Revenue Shaukat Tarin, Economic Affairs Omar Ayub Khan, and Energy Hammad Azhar, Schafer emphasized the necessity of sticking to the government’s structural reform program, notably in the power sector and with regard to budgetary sustainability.
“We urge the government to expedite the pace of electricity sector changes, since these are crucial for Pakistan to achieve faster economic development and a resilient recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic,” added Schafer.
“The key challenge for the electricity sector is to be financially sustainable in order to support the country’s greener, more resilient, and inclusive development,” he said.
The sessions also emphasized the necessity of strengthening fiscal resilience by harmonising the general sales tax across the country, establishing an integrated debt management office, and maintaining a sustainable macroeconomic framework that fosters private investment and growth.
Schafer also met with Asad Umar, Minister for Planning, Development, Reforms, and Special Initiatives, and Faisal Sultan, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister for National Health Services.
He promised them that the bank will continue to assist the purchase of WHO-approved vaccines for Pakistan. Previously, the World Bank reorganized the Pandemic Response Effectiveness Project (PREP) to offer $153 million in vaccine funding.
He also assured Umar of the World Bank’s support for Pakistan’s planning and statistical machinery.
Schafer also met with Minister/Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Climate Change Malik Amin, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Commerce and Investment Abdul Razak Dawood, and State Bank of Pakistan Governor Dr Reza Baqir during his visit.
He praised the government’s dedication to green, sustainable growth, decarbonization and renewable energy, nature-based solutions, and climate-friendly development. The most recent macroeconomic, industrial, and trade developments were also covered.
Schafer was briefed on Pakistan’s foundational progress in creating its social protection system during a meeting with Dr. Sania Nishtar, special adviser to the prime minister on poverty reduction and social protection.
He reaffirmed the World Bank’s ongoing support for the Ehsaas program, which is critical in assisting citizens in need to manage with the effects of the Covid-19 outbreak and other socioeconomic shocks.
Schafer also met with Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan virtually.
He reminded them of the bank’s commitment to support their various provincial sustainable development objectives through the new CPF.
He also met with a wide mix of parliamentarians, civil society representatives, and academics.
Pakistan has been a World Bank member since 1950. The World Bank has since provided $40 billion in support.
The World Bank’s operation in Pakistan is guided by the Country Partnership Strategy for FY2015/20, which identifies four areas of engagement as priorities: energy, private sector development, inclusion, and service delivery.
The present portfolio includes 58 projects totaling $13.80 billion in commitments.