Dar wants World Bank to increase development credit limit to $500m


ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Friday sought enhanced development policy credit from the World Bank to support its reform process as the multilateral lender indicated replicating Islamabad’s income support programme in Egypt.
Informed sources told Media that Finance Minister Ishaq Dar told a visiting vice-president of the World Bank that the government was expecting at least $500 million of Development Policy Credit (DPC) support because of its robust progress on economic reforms. The bank has earmarked $410 million under the DPC.
Mr Hartwig Schafer, Vice President Operations Policy and Country Services of the World Bank Group, had a meeting with Mr Dar on Friday. He commended the successful model of the Benazir Income Support Prog­ramme (BISP), particularly its smart card based disbursement mechanism, and reported the World Bank’s plans to replicate it in Egypt.
During the meeting, the finance minister told Mr Schafer that Islamabad was expected higher DPC support this year based on introduction of a series of legislation for reforms including the most recent passage of the Benami Law by the parliament to expand formal economy. He said the World Bank should enhance DPC credit to at least $500m instead of proposed $410 million.
Mr Schafer assured the finance minister that he would take up the matter with the board of directors and hoped the financing may be enhanced, official sources said. He said Pakistan’s recent progress on the reform agenda was higher than the World Bank expectations.
Mr Dar said Pakistan valued the strong collaboration with the World Bank Group and recalled how the government had undertaken challenging economic reforms with success over the last three years with the support of the World Bank and other development partners, a statement said.
He told the World Bank official that the government was working to eliminate load-shedding and improve infrastructure. He said the government was giving priority to meet the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. In addition, Pakistan has worked closely with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and has a robust AML regime, which is consistently being strengthened.
Noting the focus of the government on increasing financial inclusion and digital inclusion, the minister said the objective was to reach out to the remotest areas of the country and improve disbursement system for BISP beneficiaries.
He also briefed the bank official about the legislations and rule making carried out in the past three years in the fields of banking, corporate governance and financial management.
Mr Shafer said that the World Bank portfolio in Pakistan currently supports the country’s pragmatic economic reform agenda and would continue to resonate and sync with the government’s economic development objectives.
He is expected to visit Tarbela dam to have an overview of the proposed Tarbela 5th extension project for which the World Bank approved a $390 million loan a day earlier to add an additional generation capacity of 1,410 megawatts.