Govt, WB sign $371m pacts for agri and social sectors

ISLAMABAD: The federal government on Monday struck two agreements worth $371 million with the World Bank to get the latter’s support in executing projects of agriculture and social sectors in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhawa.

Economic Affairs Secretary Noor Ahmed signed the financing agreements on behalf of the government of Pakistan, while representatives of the governments of Punjab and KP signed their respective project agreements online.

Economic Affairs Minister Makhdum Khusro Bakhtyar witnessed the signing ceremony.

WB Country Director Patchamuthu Illangovan signed the project agreements on behalf of the bank, said a press release issued by the Ministry of Economic Affairs.

The bank is financing $200 million to support human capital accumulation in Punjab by early investment project.  The objective of the project is to increase the utilisation of quality health services, and economic and social inclusion programmes among poor and vulnerable households in the select districts in Punjab.

The total approved cost of the project is $330 million including the WB financing of $200 million. The project will strengthen the quality of primary healthcare services to introduce a conditional cash transfer (CCT) programme; support economic inclusion for young parent and strengthen the quality of early childhood education (ECE) and lower primary education.

The project would also increase the efficiency and sustainability of Punjab’s pro-poor initiatives would address gaps in human endowments by promoting skilled birth attendance, immunization, school enrollment for early education and addressing constraints for income generating activities and diversification of income sources.

The project would also target 11 (out of 36) most vulnerable districts of Punjab. Among the 11 districts, 8 districts are from South Punjab, where poor households are concentrated.

The other project the WB is going to finance is Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Irrigated Agriculture Improvement with a cost of $171.0 million.

The objective of the project is to improve the performance of irrigated agriculture for farmers in KP.

The total cost of the project is $219.30 million. The Bank would finance $171.0 million and the remaining cost would be borne by the KP government.

The development objective of the project would be achieved through multiple aspects of performance for improving the performance of on-farm water management by rehabilitating watercourses, introducing advanced irrigation technologies, and strengthening the capacity of communities, farmers and the On-farm Water Management Directorate.

The project would cover all districts and tehsils of KP, as well as the newly merged FATA areas.

The minister thanked the WB for extending continuous support to the government in its efforts to achieve sustainable economic development in the country.

The bank’s county director appreciated the government’s commitment to developing the underprivileged areas and reaffirmed tha, his organisation would continue to cooperate with Pakistan for sustainable economic growth and development projects.

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