EA minister appreciates foreign assistance

By Staff Reporter
Tuesday – April 28, 2020
ISLAMABAD: In a high-level meeting held in the economic affairs division (EAD), on Monday, the economic affairs (EA) minister Makhdum Khusro Bakhtyar, noted with appreciation the continued support received from the international community including development partners to provide emergency medical response and mitigate socio-economic disruption caused by the COVID-19 (coronavirus) crisis.

According to an official statement, the government launched Pakistan’s pandemic preparedness and response plan on April 23, 2020, where development partners committed their financial and technical support including grant and concessional financing.

Of the major development partners, world bank (WB) has provided initial support of $240 million in new financing and repurposing existing financing to support Pakistan’s urgent health response, social safety nets, distance learning and food security.

To date over 1.8 million personal protective equipment (PPEs) and medical equipment have been delivered around the country.

The WB is also ramping up its support to provide over $2 billion in new financing and up to $1 billion in repurposing of existing funds including $130 million in grant funding over the next 15-months.

These funds will support Pakistan’s strong and quick recovery from COVID-19 crisis.

An important part of the efforts will focus around prioritising resources to restore employment and livelihoods for the portion of the population worst affected by the crisis, like the labourers and daily wage earners, through an ambitious public works program.

Similarly, the Asian development bank (ADB) has so far extended grant assistance worth $2.5 million and repurposed $50 million from national disaster risk management fund (NDRMF) for Pakistan which are being utilised by the government to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic health needs at the national and provincial levels.

A $500 million worth counter cyclical support facility and $300 million as emergency assistance lending (EAL) to respond to COVID19 are also under preparation for approval by the ADB board within this financial year.

In addition, a pipeline of $900 million in policy based lending for reforms in capital markets, trade and competitiveness and energy sector to be approved by the board of ADB before the end of 2020, is also under discussion.

The international monetary fund (IMF) has already approved and disbursed $1.386 billion under its rapid financing instrument. While there are commitments of $12.545 million from the European union (EU) and financing support from the Islamic development bank (IDB) of $500 million in oil financing and $150 million for mitigating COVID 19 impact.

The united nations (UN) has provided technical training of medical staff.

The UN development programme (UNDP) and world health organisation (WHO) have also assisted national disaster management authority (NDMA) and ministry of planning, development and special initiatives in preparation of Pakistan’s pandemic response plan.

The UNRC has invited Pakistan to join WHO’s COVID 19 partners web-based platform for collaborating on COVID19 response.

Other development partners including the United Kingdom (UK) department for international development (DFID), United States agency for international development (USAID), People’s Republic of China and Japan have each reached out to the government of Pakistan (GoP) in financial and technical assistance to supplement Pakistan’s efforts in tackling the health, financial and economic fall out of the COVID-19 crisis.

The same demonstrates GoP’s strong partnership with the international development partners and illustrates their support for government’s allocation and use of resources.

The meeting was attended by the ambassador of EU, ADB country director, WB country director, UN resident coordinator and the representative of IDB.