Published Date: Apr 12, 2020
$2b in pipeline to support Pakistan’s recovery phase of pandemic: WB
As every crisis presents an opportunity, Covid-19 also provides the world and Pakistan with an opportunity to reform the social sector policies and to initiate the structural reforms in institutions that need to concurrently happen and are delayed for years now. World Bank, Country Director of Pakistan, Illango Patchamuthu expressed these views during an online Covid-19 Policy Response Dialogue titled “World Bank’s support to Pakistan in Responding to Covid-19”, organized by the Sustainable Develop- ment Policy Institute. He said the WB was working on how to repurpose a good part of our share in supporting Pakistan during its recovery period. Around $600 million to $2 billion will be made available to support recovery initiatives through building on safety net programme, he said. The programme will support employment through public works programme and microenterprises and will address the looming food security issue. While commenting on WB support initiatives for Pakistan amid Covid-19 crisis, Illango said initially the Bank was able to repurpose the $40 million aid program to help the government in immediately purchasing the medical equipment and supplies that already have started to arrive at district and local levels. Whereas, recently, the Bank board approved $200 million pandemic responsive fund facility for Pakistan which was part of the $14 billion global fund facility for coping the pandemic. He said out of $200 million fund, $150 million covered immediate response of purchasing the medical equipment and $50 million covered the relief through Ehsaas cash transfer to help poor families. Illango said that we are working with the Ministry of Finance, Commerce, Energy and Planning and Development departments both at federal and provincial levels to look at structural reforms that need to be concurrently happen which were delayed for years now. Structural reforms need to go hand in hand, because fiscal challenge continue to remain there and will be further constrained due to Covid-19 related response. Stressing the need of investing in human capital, he said that Pakistan is spending around 3% of GDP on health sector, which $242 per capita health spending and that need to be enhanced.