Coronavirus: World Bank offers Pakistan $200 million in Aid
The World Bank has announced the allocation to Pakistan of a $200 million aid package for coronavirus relief through its Pandemic Response Effectiveness Project. However, minority religious groups have expressed concern that funds made available to the government of Pakistan will be solely, or primarily, distributed to the affected populations through local Muslim NGOs to the exclusion of Christian NGOs which, in ordinary times, are often the victims of government-based discrimination.
Below is an article by the World Bank Group
he World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors today approved a $200 million package to help Pakistan take effective and timely action to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic by strengthening the country’s national healthcare systems and mitigating socioeconomic disruptions. This support will also draw an extra $38 million from eight existing projects for urgently needed medical equipment and supplies.
While focusing on the COVID-19 preparedness and emergency response in the health sector, the Pandemic Response Effectiveness Project (PREP) will also help the poor and vulnerable cope with the immediate impact of the pandemic through social protection measures, food rations, and remote learning education.
“The World Bank is ramping up its support to Pakistan and its people to fight the spread of COVID-19 in the country,” said Illango Patchamuthu, World Bank Country Director for Pakistan. “PREP will help strengthen the country’s capacity to detect and monitor the disease. In addition, it will also make available resources to support cash transfer through existing arrangements to the poor and vulnerable. We will continue to partner with Federal and Provincial Governments to ensure effective implementation during these testing times.”
PREP will help establish quarantine facilities in collaboration with public and private hospitals and also supply equipment to hospitals, including ventilators and Personal Protection Equipment for doctors and paramedics.
The project will benefit infected people, at-risk populations, medical and emergency personnel, service providers in medical and testing facilities (both public and private), and national and provincial departments of health.
The Project is financed from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s concessional credit window for developing countries, in the amount of $200 million, of which $100 million is provided through the World Bank Group’s COVID-19 Fast-Track Facility. The extra $38 million financing is repurposed from existing projects and will support federal and provincial governments in purchasing necessary equipment and supplies. Procurement is underway and some equipment and supplies have arrived and being put to service.
World Bank Group COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Response
The World Bank Group is rolling out a $14 billion fast-track package to strengthen the COVID-19 response in developing countries and shorten the time to recovery. The immediate response includes financing, policy advice and technical assistance to help countries cope with the health and economic impacts of the pandemic. The IFC is providing $8 billion in financing to help private companies affected by the pandemic and preserve jobs. IBRD and IDA are making an initial US$6 billion available for the health-response. As countries need broader support, the World Bank Group will deploy up to $160 billion over 15 months to protect the poor and vulnerable, support businesses, and bolster economic recovery.
The World Bank in Pakistan
Pakistan has been a member of the World Bank since 1950. Since then, the World Bank has provided $40 billion in assistance. The World Bank’s program in Pakistan is governed by the Country Partnership Strategy for FY2015-2020 with four priority areas of engagement: energy, private sector development, inclusion, and service delivery. The current portfolio has 46 projects with a net commitment of $9.1 billion.