World Banks approves $ 300 million for Pakistan social safety nets, higher education


Washington : The World Bank has approved two projects totaling US$300 million to help the Government of Pakistan strengthen social safety nets and improve higher education. US$200 million is for the Pakistan Social Safety Nets Development Policy Credit, which is designed to establish an institutional and operational framework for an efficient national safety net system.

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This policy credit “ jointly with the Pakistan Social Safety Net Technical Assistance Project approved in June 2009 “ will strengthen the Benazir Income Support Program, the Government’s new national safety net program which aims to cushion the negative effects of the food crisis and inflation on poor people.

“Pakistani households are highly vulnerable to income shocks, and existing social assistance programs cover only a very small fraction of the poor,” said Yusupha Crookes, World Bank Country Director for Pakistan.

“Assisting the poor and the vulnerable is a key objective of Government’s poverty reduction strategy. This project will help build a robust safety net system that provides chronic and transient poor people with both basic income support and access to opportunities that will help lift them out of poverty.”

This policy credit will help establish a national targeting system based on objective and transparent criteria, supported by strong and transparent institutions for collecting enrollment data, determining eligibility, benefit payment, and for addressing grievances. The safety net program will have a strong emphasis on monitoring and evaluation to ensure that benefits reach poor people.

The World Bank also approved US$100 million to support the Government’s efforts to improve higher education. The Higher Education Support Program Credit will support the government’s initiatives to increase participation, enhance quality and relevance and strengthen the efficiency and financial sustainability of higher education institutions.

The program supports the completion of critical reforms undertaken by the Government of Pakistan in order to create the conditions to enhance the stock of skilled Pakistanis able to contribute to an economy increasingly based on knowledge and technology.

The credits from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s concessionary lending arm, carries a 0.75 percent service fee, a 10-year grace period, and a maturity of 35 years.