WB okays $135mn projects to strengthen Pak Social Safety Nets

The World Bank has approved two projects totaling US$135 million to help the Government of Pakistan strengthen social safety nets and eradicate polio.
The increases in global food and fuel prices and Pakistan’s ongoing energy crisis have raised the vulnerability of the country’s poor to an unprecedented level. Pakistan’s publicly financed social safety net programs are limited in their coverage, administration, targeting efficiency, and ability to respond to shocks.
The US$60 million Pakistan Social Safety Net Technical Assistance Project will enhance the operation and management of a nationwide, effective and transparent safety net system for the poor in Pakistan to cushion the negative effects of the food and economic crisis.
“The Government of Pakistan is committed to developing a modern social safety net system,” said Yusupha Crookes, World Bank Country Director for Pakistan. “This project will assist Pakistan in establishing an effective social safety net system that provides poor people with basic income support.”
The World Bank also approved US$74.68 million to support the Government’s efforts to eradicate polio. Pakistan has made progress in its efforts to eradicate Polio since 1997, with the number of confirmed Polio cases decreasing substantially from around 1,147 in 1997 to 32 in 2007. However, in 2008 there was an increase in virus transmission with 117 cases reported, spread across all four provinces.
The Third Partnership for Polio Eradication Project, which is part of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), will help Pakistan move towards eradicating the disease from its territory by ensuring timely supply and effective use of Oral Polio Vaccines (OPV), targeting children less than five years of age.
The credit for Polio Eradication is a performance-based credit with an option to be converted into a grant on successful achievement of project objectives. Once the objectives are achieved, the repayment of the credit will be undertaken by Buy-down partners, including Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and United Nations Foundation .The credits from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s concessionary lending arm, carry a 0.75 percent service fee, a 10-year grace period, and a maturity of 35 years.

Copyright APP (Associated Press of Pakistan), 2009