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ISLAMABAD: The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors is likely to approve $ 150 million in financing for “Pakistan: Digital Economy Enhancement Project (DEEP) and Sindh Barrages Improvement Project” on Friday (today), it is learnt.

Sources revealed that the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors is likely to approve additional financing covers of around $ 72 million to bridge the financing gap in the “Sindh Barrages Improvement Project.”

The project development objectives are improving the reliability and safety of the Guddu Barrage and strengthening the Sindh Irrigation Department’s capacity to operate and manage the barrage.

Sindh Barrages Improvement Project: World Bank mulling extending $72m additional financing

The “Sindh Barrages Improvement Project” worth $ 326.6 million is facing a financing gap of about $ 72 million and will require either government of Sindh counterpart funding or additional IDA funding to meet contractual obligations in the medium term.

Official documents of the World Bank revealed that due to accumulated delays, completing the works at Guddu and Sukkur Barrages will require more time beyond the current project closing date of June 30, 2024.

The project was approved in 2015 with the original closing date of 22nd December 2020, which was later revised to June 30, 2024.

The additional financing (AF) will provide a $ 71.7 million IDA credit to close the financing gap for the completion of activities. There are no new activities introduced under this AF. Component A – Rehabilitation of Guddu and Sukkur Barrages (Revised total cost: $ 286 million equivalent, of which IDA $ 267 million equivalent). This component will finance the rehabilitation and modernization of Guddu and Sukkur Barrages and associated structures.

These investments will not only improve the reliability of the water supply to the 14 main canals fed by the barrages but also restore the flood passage capacity of the barrages.

The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors is likely to approve DEEP worth $78 million, aimed at enhancing the government’s capacity for digitally-enabled public services delivery for citizens and businesses.

The project documents revealed that it will support activities that will increase access to and promote the use of digital services across Pakistan, with a focus on broadband access and reducing the significant digital divide currently existing in many parts of the country.

The project will also support cross-cutting improvements in the enabling environment—supporting reforms to expand broadband connectivity and to strengthen the policy and legal framework for the digital economy.

The DEEP will also enable institutional, policy, and regulatory global best practices through technical assistance to the implementation agencies—including the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication (MoITT), the NADRA (National Database and Registration Authority), the Board of Investment (BoI), and other provincial institutions.

Under the project, NADRA under the Ministry of Interior will build a data exchange layer for government agencies to exchange information securely, as well as provide citizens with a digital “wallet” to secure credentials.

This is potentially transformative for increasing citizens’ access to public and private services (everything from birth certificates to banking).

The project is aligned with the 2018 Digital Pakistan Policy, and in particular objective, which calls for the establishment of a holistic (government-wide) enterprise architecture and the integration of government databases and systems through e-government service portals.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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