World Bank Expands Support for Pakistan

The World Bank (WB) approved a package of measures worth $450 million to help the poorest and most vulnerable people in Pakistan.

The initiative includes expanding banking services and financial access, strengthening the social safety net to improve the quality of coverage to those who need it most, as well as promoting tourism for growth in Punjab through encouraging private-sector development to provide more opportunities.

Among the initiatives, the Finance for Growth Development Policy (FGDP) is a policy credit of $300 million to support the efforts of Pakistan’s government in promoting a more inclusive and transparent financial sector, said a press statement issued here Thursday.

The program aims to raise financial access throughout Pakistan to 50 percent of adults, including 25 percent women by 2020.

Similarly, in the next three years, it aims to boost private sector credit access to small and medium enterprises to 15 percent from 7 percent in 2015.

“Pakistan has made significant progress in the implementation of economic reforms”, said Illango Patchamuthu, WB Country Director for Pakistan.

“However, despite the substantial progress in the initial reform programs and recent developments in the financial sector; there remains an important unfinished reforms agenda, as financial access and inclusion remain particularly low. About 100 million adults in Pakistan don’t have access to formal and regulated financial services. This number represents about 5 percent of the world’s unbanked population. This needs to change for Pakistani women and men to realize their aspirations,” Patchamuthu added.

The project will also help improve service quality, provide better skills development opportunities, foster stronger governance, and give residents a more prominent say in local development plans with a special focus on providing more jobs for women.

The credit is financed from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank Group’s grant and low-interest arm, the statement added.