WASHINGTON: The World Bank on Wednesday approved a package worth $450 million to support the government efforts help the poorest and most vulnerable people in Pakistan through initiatives that include strengthening the social safety net to improve the quality of coverage to those who meet it most.
The Finance for Growth Development Policy (FGDP) is a policy credit of $300 million to support the Government of Pakistan’s efforts in promoting a more inclusive and transparent financial sector, the Bank said in a statement.
The program aims to raise financial access throughout Pakistan to 50 percent of adults, including 25 percent women by 2020. Similarly, in the next three years, it aims to boost private sector credit access to small and medium enterprises to 15 percent from 7 percent in 2015.
An amount of $100 million under the National Social Protection Program will assist the government to strengthen the national social safety net systems for the poor to enhance their human capital and promote beneficiary families’ access to complementary social and productive services.
It will support the Benazir Income Support Program to update the National Socio Economic Registry- the national platform to objectively identify the poor for cash transfers and other social programs, and incentivize improvements in the service delivery systems.
Additionally, the Bank will provide $50 million under the Punjab Tourism for Growth Project to strengthen institutions, increase private sector participation, and improve infrastructure to support the tourism sector in Punjab province.
The project will enable the private sector to lead the development of the tourism market and ensures that public institutions help facilitate these processes while fulfilling their respective mandates.
It will also help improve service quality, provide better skills development opportunities, foster stronger governance, and give residents a more prominent say in local development plans with a special focus on providing more jobs for women.
“Pakistan has made significant progress in the implementation of economic reforms”, said Illango Patchamuthu, World Bank Country Director for Pakistan.
However, he added, that despite the substantial progress in the initial reform programs and recent developments in the financial sector; there remains an important unfinished reforms agenda, as financial access and inclusion remain low.
According to the World Bank, about 100 million adults in Pakistan don’t have access to formal and regulated financial services. This number represents about 5 percent of the world’s unbanked population.
“This needs to change for Pakistani women and men to realize their aspirations,” the Country Director said.
The credit is financed from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank Group’s grant and low-interest arm. -APP