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ISLAMABAD: The World Bank (WB) on Monday announced appointment of Najy Benhassine as new Country Director for Pakistan.

"Najy Benhassine is the WB's new Country Director for Pakistan effective August 1," said WB press statement issued here. He succeeds Illango Patchamuthu, who completed his term on July 31.

Benhassine most recently served as Regional Director for Equitable Growth, Finance and Institutions in the Middle East and North Africa.

Prior to this, he was Director for the Finance, Competitiveness & Innovation Global Practice, the statement said adding that since joining the World Bank in 2001, he has worked extensively on economic development, finance, private sector development and impact evaluations.

Benhassine's appointment comes at a time when the government of Pakistan is confronting both the immediate and longer-term health and economic impacts of the Covid-19 crisis.

"It is critical that we help protect the lives and livelihoods of the people of Pakistan and support economic recovery in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic," said Benhassine.

"My first priority is to ensure that World Bank support helps to not only alleviate the immediate health and economic impacts of the crisis but at the same time support the Government's ambitious social and economic reform program to promote a more resilient and inclusive economy so that Pakistan can build back better," he added.

The World Bank portfolio in Pakistan includes 56 active projects amounting to approximately $11 billion.

The portfolio supports reforms and investments to strengthen institutions, particularly in fiscal management and human development; multi-sectoral initiatives in children's nutrition, education and skills, irrigated agriculture, tourism, disaster risk management, and urban development; and clean energy, and social and financial inclusion.

The World Bank is supporting the government of Pakistan through Covid-19 emergency response projects totaling almost half a billion to help the country prevent, detect and respond to the pandemic and strengthen public health preparedness.