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ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training fears to face lapse in the World Bank grant of US 20 million dollars for "Covid-19 Response, Recovery and Resilience in Education project" due to initial delay in approval of the PC-I and timely utilisation of grant, it is learnt.

The project was signed on November 25, 2020, while the closing date is November 30, 2021 with the objective to strengthening federal and provincial governments' capacity in the education sector to respond to and recover from the Covid-19 crisis and lay the foundation to face future crisis with a focus on disadvantaged areas and vulnerable populations. The Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training is the implementing agency.

According to the documents, out of $20 million of grant, $3.6 million was disbursed so far.

Initial delay in approval of the PC-I and timely utilisation of grant were identified as major issues and the grant will lapse on November 30, 2021. The National Coordination Committee-Foreign Funded Projects (NCC-FFP) has directed that in view of time constraint, the Ministry of Education should make dedicated arrangements for implementation and rigorous monitoring of this project to avoid lapse of grant funds.

According to the documents against the commitment of $620 million for three problematic projects of education $499 million remained un-disbursed, while only $121 was disbursed.

For the Higher Education Development in Pakistan projects of World Bank only $65 million was disbursed, while $335 million remained un-disbursed due to lack of budget cover and delayed approval of PC-I of TA part.

The HEC has been advised to complete validation of achieved disbursement-linked indicators (DLIs) for disbursement of funds before June 30, 2021 besides complete restructuring proposal and budgetary allocation in consultation with the Planning Commission.

For another World Bank funded project of $200 million "Actions to Strengthen Performance for Inclusive & Responsive Education" only $52 million was disbursed and $148 million remained un-disbursed due to lack of budget cover and matching grants to provincial governments.

The NCC-FFP has directed the Ministry of Education to secure budgetary allocations from the Finance Division for completion of due DLIs and to ensure withdrawal of advance.

The committee was informed that the Ministry of Education has drawn mobilisation advance of $52 million. The committee directed the ministry to update availability of budgetary cover, plan of utilisation and matching arrangements with the provincial government.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021