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ISLAMABAD: The government of Pakistan Friday signed loan agreement of “Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Spending Effectively for Enhanced Development (SPEED) Programme” worth $400 million with the World Bank. Minister for Economic Affairs Omar Ayub Khan witnessed the signing ceremony of the loan agreement.

Noor Ahmed, secretary Economic Affairs Division and Najy Benhassine, country director, World Bank signed the financing agreement of the project on the occasion. The program aims to support the government of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa in improving the availability and management of public resources for delivery of primary, middle and high school education and primary health services in the province.

The program objectives will be achieved by: (a) introducing medium-term perspective to fiscal planning and budgeting to create fiscal space for education and health service delivery; (b) providing adequate and predictable funding for education and health services delivery; (c) provision of adequate staffing and facilities for health and education service delivery.

The improved management of public finances for delivery of education and health services will be ensured through; (a) delegation of greater financial management authorities to line departments and facility levels; (b) rolling out integrated financial management information systems; and (c) modernisation of procurement processes.

Minister for Economic Affairs Omar Ayub Khan, while witnessing the signing ceremony reiterated the parameters of valued partnership with the World Bank. He stated that today’s event was a reflection of continued confidence by the IFIs on the government’s policy and program.

He reiterated the commitment of the federal government to extend all possible support to the provincial governments in their efforts to restore human capital by addressing setbacks to health, education, jobs, and building resilience service delivery system and promoting economic opportunities to ensure inclusive and sustainable economic growth in the country.

He thanked the World Bank country management for extending their continuous support to the Government of Pakistan in achieving sustainable economic development in the country. The Country Director World Bank, Najy Benhassine, ensured the World Bank’s continuous financial and technical support to Government of Pakistan in achieving the priority development objectives and to promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth in the country.

The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors last week approved $400 million in financing from the International Development Association (IDA) to support Pakistan in accelerating investments in education and health services in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province.

According to the project documents, the proposed program supports GoKP strategies to improve health and education service delivery including, (i) Public Financial Management (PFM) Strategy (2017-2020); (ii) Health Policy (2018-2025); and (iii) Education Sectoral Plan (2020-2025).

These three documents constitute the government’s program. Additionally, it aligns with the Economic Recovery Plan (2019-2023) that was launched in July 30, 2020 to help the province recover from the impact of COVID-19.

More specifically, the program aligns with pillar 8, “Adopting Innovations to Governance and Service Delivery” to support actions to improve government processes, increase transparency, and improve service delivery.

Altogether, these strategic documents constitute the GoKP’s plan to address both the upstream structural weaknesses in the management of public resources and downstream operational issues in service delivery such as procurement, funds release, timely budget execution, and accountability mechanisms to facilitate the availability of resources for the delivery of education and health services.

The proposed program is designed to advance the reform plans outlined in these strategic documents. The Minister for Economic Affairs also chaired a meeting on Foreign-Funded Projects of the government of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and reviewed the progress of on-going portfolio.

During the meeting, the minister emphasised to remove all the bottlenecks and expedite implementation of the projects on fast track basis.In order to ensure smooth and timely completion of the projects, he directed to review progress of the projects on a monthly basis. The meeting was attended by all the senior officials of the EAD.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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