The Asian Development Bank (ADB) plans to provide about $10 billion in fresh assistance to Pakistan over the next five years for various development projects in the areas of urban services, disaster risk reduction and policy-based programmes.

This was stated by ADB Director General for Central and West Asia Eugenue Zukhov in a meeting with Minister for Economic Affairs Omar Ayub on Tuesday.

“Additional financing of $700 million is currently available to Pakistan to procure Covid-19 vaccines under the ADB’s APVAX facility,” he said.

He appreciated the government of Pakistan’s support for successfully evacuating the ADB personnel working in Afghanistan.

Zukhov emphasised the ADB’s commitment to support Pakistan’s reform agenda and boost economic recovery process amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Speaking on the occasion, Ayub said that urban services had become a huge priority for the government given rapid urbanisation and population growth in Pakistan.

He reiterated the government’s commitment to improve urban infrastructure and services including water, sanitation and public transport.

Citing figures, he said that the ADB was financing 32 development projects worth $6.4 billion in diverse sectors including energy, road and transport, agriculture and irrigation, urban services, education, healthcare and social protection.

“Through the National Coordination Committee on Foreign-Funded Projects, the Economic Affairs Division has improved the performance of ongoing projects by removing major bottlenecks such as delay in land acquisition and right of way (RoW) issues,” he said.

“The department has also undertaken an internal exercise to weed out non-performing projects in a bid to redirect resources towards more sustainable schemes.”

The minister assured the ADB that the government would step up efforts to improve project management and oversight by setting up a dedicated monitoring cell at the Economic Affairs Division.

Appreciating the ADB’s continued support to Pakistan, he told Zukhov that the government was committed to completing structural reforms in multiple areas of the economy including energy, capital markets, trade competitiveness, domestic resource mobilisation and governance.

He called on the ADB to enhance assistance in the energy, road and urban services segments of the erstwhile FATA region for the provision of basic amenities to the residents of the area.

The minister acknowledged the ADB’s assistance for the procurement of Covid-19 vaccines.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 10th, 2021.

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