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ISLAMABAD: The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) extended the duration of the umbrella PC-1 of US$ 1,784.93 million project to three years from the initially proposed duration of one year.

Informed sources in the Finance Ministry said that the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination cautions that 44 million children’s lives would be at stake if polio activities are forced to halt from October 2023 onwards.

The Ministry of NHSRC further stated that the implications extend beyond Pakistan’s borders, as the risk of increased global isolation due to travel restrictions looms large, which could further exacerbate the crisis.

Recognising the urgency, a post-ECNEC meeting was convened by the Ministry of Planning, Development and Special Initiative (PD&SI) on August 23rd. This gathering brought together representatives from provinces and relevant federal ministries to deliberate on the revised PC-1.

The outcome of this meeting resulted in a recommendation that the Ministry of NHSRC may, if desired, move a summary to the caretaker cabinet or caretaker prime minister seeking a revision of the ECNEC decision to extend the umbrella PC-I duration to three years aligning it with the IsDB loan agreement instead of the initially specified one year, and assigning the responsibility back to the UNICEF and the WHO for support in the implementation of project interventions instead of the provinces.

The Ministry of NHSRC put up a summary to the caretaker premier, urgently seeking his endorsement for recommendations, which expressed agreement with the recommendations and instructed the ministry to present the issue before the ECNEC for a re-evaluation of their earlier decision with regard to the duration of the umbrella PC of the project.

On a previous summary moved by the Ministry of Planning, Development and Special Initiatives for the same project, the umbrella PC-1’s duration was approved for one year and decided that the project cost of US$ 1,784.90 million (all foreign aid subject to) compliance with the CDWP decisions that the provinces shall prepare their own PC-1s within one year so that further ownership of the programme implementation may be shifted to the provinces with their own responsibility to acquire loan and liability to pay back directly.

The provincial PC-1s will explicitly depict the share of loan of each of the provinces.

Additionally, in order to achieve the objective of polio eradication and a polio-free Pakistan, there is a need to review and revise the implementation strategy whereby the provincial and sub-provincial health departments are made optimally inclusive in the implementation of project interventions and consequently, the provinces are made more accountable.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023


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