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ISLAMABAD: The Government of Pakistan and the Asian Development Bank (ADB), on Wednesday, signed six financing agreements of $1.543 billion for energy-sector reforms, social protection, urban infrastructure, road sector, and water resources.

Omar Ayub Khan, federal minister for Economic Affairs witnessed the signing of six financing agreements.

Mian Asad Hayaud Din, secretary, Economic Affairs Division and Yong Ye, country director, ADB signed the financing agreements.

The financing agreements include $300 million policy-based loan to support financial, technical and governance reforms to strengthen

Pakistan’s energy sector; $385 million financing agreement to improve urban infrastructure in five cities of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa; $235 million project loan to dualise 222-km Shikarpur-Rajanpur Section of Indus Highway (N-55); and $603 million results-based lending program to strengthen and expand Ehsaas Programme. Two project readiness facilities for preparing Kurram Tangi integrated water resources development project ($5 million) and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa cities improvement investment project phase-II ($15 million) were also signed.

Omar Ayub Khan appreciated the president, senior management and board of directors of the ADB for their continued and enhanced financial support towards reforming energy sector, improving road networks, enhancing social protection and developing sustainable cities in Pakistan.

He stated that the KP Cities Improvement Project ($385 million) will help provincial and city governments of KP to improve the livability of five cities (Abbottabad, Kohat, Mardan, Mingora, and Peshawar) by providing water supply, sewerage, solid waste management, and green infrastructure.

All set for inking $1.5bn loan agreements with ADB

It will also provide institutional support to improve service delivery and performance of municipal companies with special focus on promoting gender-friendly municipal services through empowerment and capacity development.

The project will benefit up to 3.5 million people in these five target cities of KP. The project also supports the government’s development priorities and Prime Minister Imran Khan’s vision of Clean Green Pakistan.

The minister also highlighted that under the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) Corridor Development Investment Programme Tranche-II ($235 million), a 222-km Shikarpur-Rajanpur Section of Indus Highway (N-55) will be dualised (four-lane carriageway) which traverse Sindh and Punjab provinces on the western side of Indus River via Kandhkot, Kashmore and Rojhan.

The dualisation of Indus Highway (N-55) will not only boost local economic activities but also promote intra/inter-regional trade and movement of people by improved connectivity and reduced travel time. Indus Highway provides another international corridor linking China, Afghanistan and their neighbouring Central Asian countries to the Arabian Sea.

In order to ensure comfort and safety of road users, the section will be equipped with bus shelters, trauma centres, and rest areas as well as road safety facilities, he added.

He further stated that Integrated Social Protection Development Programme will support the government’s efforts to implement Ehsaas Programme including social protection and poverty reduction schemes in line with the vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Kurram Tangi Integrated Water Resources Development Project is one of the top priority projects in the erstwhile FATA, which includes construction of a dam with water storage facility, hydropower generation and construction/upgrading of irrigation system covering 140,000 hectares.

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It will not only help to increase agricultural production, create employment opportunities and reduce rural poverty in the region but also improve food security in the country.

The minister reiterated the government’s strong commitment to support all the provinces, AJK, and Gilgit-Baltistan for achieving inclusive growth and sustainable development.

Shixin Chen, vice president, ADB said that despite a challenging situation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Government of Pakistan continues to make progress in implementing comprehensive economic, fiscal, and structural reforms.

He also commended the efforts of Government of Pakistan for addressing socioeconomic challenges and economic recovery amid pandemic.

Chen appreciated the mass vaccination programme for controlling the spread of the Covid-19 for which ADB also provided $500 million to Pakistan.

Eugene Zhukov, director general, ADB expressed that the ADB will continue to support the government’s development priorities and stands committed to support Pakistan for a green, resilient, and sustainable recovery.

Yong Ye, country director stated that the ADB financial support will strengthen Pakistan’s economy and reduce the risk of external economic shocks.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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