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The World Bank and Sindh government have agreed to launch $145 million Sindh Covid-19 Response programme and Locust control project in the province.

The decision was taken in a meeting between Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah and World Bank Country Director Patchamuthu Illangovan through a video link. The former participated from CM House Karachi while the latter along with his team participated from his Islamabad office.

The chief minister was assisted by Minister Energy Imtiaz Shaikh, CM Coordinator Haris Gazdar, Chairman P&D Mohammad Waseem, PSCM Sajid Jamal Abro, Secretary Energy Musaddiq Khan, Secretary Finance Hassan Naqvi and Secretary Investment Najam Shah.

At outset of the meeting Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah said that his government with technical and financial support of the World Bank wanted to launch COVID-19 Impact programme. He added that for the purpose resource mobilization through diversion of funds/restructuring, repurposing and realigning World Bank portfolio would be required.

He added that the World Bank Team was also working on the high frequency of COVID impact monitoring system to support government decision-making.

The chief minister said that Karachi specific monitoring system was being developed but "I want a high impact COVID Monitoring System should be developed for the entire province," he suggested to the World Bank.

According to Shah his government has planned to disinfect all the public places, bus stands/stops, offices, proper cleaning of roads and public areas, cleaning of storm water drains and nullahs, establishment of two garbage transfer stations and two landfill sites in the city.

The World Bank chief approved the proposal and said that Sindh government could use funds $135 million from its different projects by diverting the amount until the project was formally approved from the concerned forums.

SUPPORT TO SMEs: Murad Ali Shah said that the on-going crisis of Coronavirus has badly affected economic activities in the province. The small and medium enterprises have faced considerably losses, therefore his government has worked out a plan to extend small loans and financially support the daily wagers.

The World Bank assured the chief minister that they would support the Sindh government to revive economic activities in the province and rehabilitate the daily wagers through a separate programme and it would be made a part of COVID-19 Response programme.

LOCUS CONTROL PROJECT: Sindh Chief Minister said that after COVId-19, another threat, ie, locus attacks on the standing crops have emerged. Locust swarms have already damaged one third of the cropping area of the province.

He said that his government wanted the World Bank to extend its technical and financial support to the provincial so that crops and desert areas could be sprayed at the earliest, otherwise locust swarm attacks would destroy the crops and thereby food security issued would develop in the province.

The World Bank approved $10 million for the Locus Control Programme and advised the Sindh to divert the funds from Sindh Agriculture Growth Project and start locust control programme.

The World Bank would arrange more funds for the agriculture growth project. The meeting decided to constitute a team of World Bank and P&D Department Under its Chairman Mohammad Waseem to smoothen the way for restricting, repurposing and realigning the World Bank portfolio.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020

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