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Failure to meet deadline for signing pact: Pakistan may lose $3.8 million World Bank fund

Pakistan has missed the deadline to sign a formal agreement with World Bank (WB) for 3.8 million dollars Readiness Fund of Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) due to bureaucratic hurdles. The FCPF is the World Bank-administered facility that has been set up to compensate developing countries for reductions in carbon dioxide emissions achieved by preserving their forests.

Pakistan secured the funding in December last year to combat climate change and tropical deforestation after a tough competition at Geneva, Switzerland. The deadline to sign the formal agreement for funding with the World Bank was March 31, 2014. A senior official of the Climate Change Division told Business Recorder on Friday that an agreement letter was dispatched to Economic Affairs Division in January this year for approval.

"Under the law, it was duty of the Secretary Economic Affairs Division to sign the agreement with World Bank but he failed to do so," the official said. Following continuous push from office of Inspector General (Forest), the economic affairs division has now dispatched the agreement draft to Ministry of Law and Justice for vetting. "It is likely that law ministry would take another three months to vet the draft agreement," he said.

A total of eight new countries out of 27 in the race were selected for the FCPF fund after Norway pledged $100 million to the fund. The countries selected for the fund included Pakistan, Bhutan, Burkina Faso, Cote d'lvoire, Fiji, Dominican Republic, Nigeria and Togo. The official said that the World Bank may now deny the fund to Pakistan for missing the deadline and grant it to another runner-up country. "This would bring a bad name to Pakistan, besides hampering the efforts to preserve our forests and cope with the climate change," the official said.

Earlier in 2007-8, the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) set up under the Ministry of Environment was denied the FCPF funding for weak readiness preparation proposal. "India has been earning millions of rupees annually by selling their carbon credits while we are still unable even to prepare a viable proposal," the official said. Talking about delay in signing the agreement with World Bank, the official disclosed that Economic Affairs Division objected to winning the funding without its prior approval. "EAD is focused on why the two-member delegation that negotiated the funding in Geneva didn't get a no-objection certificate from the division," he said.

The two-member delegation that pleaded the case with World Bank comprised Inspector General of Forests Syed Nasir Mehmood and Director Biodiversity Programme Naeem Ashraf Raja. Pakistan has forests on over 4.4 million hectares, 5.1 percent of the total area, while current rate of deforestation of natural forests is 27,000 hectares per year. The deforestation of forests in Pakistan is one of the highest in the world.

A representative of World Bank in Pakistan Javed Afzal told Business Recorder that Pakistan missed the deadline to sign the agreement for the funds and the same has been conveyed to the relevant authorities. He, however, declined to comment on the possibility that the World Bank may now grant the funds to a runner-up country.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2014


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ICT 2014

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