KARACHI: The World Bank and the Sindh government have agreed to launch a COVID-19 response programme and a locust control project in the province worth $145 million.
This decision was taken during a meeting through video link between Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah and World Bank Country Director for Pakistan Patchamuthu Illangovan who joined in from Islamabad.
The chief minister said his government wants to launch a COVID-19 impact programme with the technical and financial assistance of the World Bank. He said the global financial institution’s portfolio will be required for resource mobilisation through diversion of funds, restructuring, repurposing and realigning.
CM Sindh that the World Bank team has also been working on the high frequency of COVID impact monitoring system to support government decision-making. He said a Karachi-specific monitoring system is being developed but suggested to the World Bank to have a COVID-19 monitoring system developed for the entire province.
The chief minister said the government has planned to disinfect all the public places, bus stops and offices, properly clean all roads and other public areas as well as stormwater drains and other drains and establish two garbage transfer stations and landfill sites each in the city.
The World Bank chief approved the proposal and said the provincial government may use funds of $135 million from its different projects by diverting the amount until the project is formally approved by the relevant forums.
CM Sindh said the novel coronavirus crisis has badly affected economic activities across the province. He said small- and medium-sized enterprises have faced considerable losses and the government has planned to extend small loans and financial support to daily wagers.
The World Bank chief assured to support the Sindh government in reviving economic activities in the province and rehabilitating daily wagers through a separate programme that will be made part of the COVID-19 response programme.
The chief minister said that after COVID-19, another threat in the form of locust attacks on standing crops has emerged. He said locust swarms have already damaged a third of the cropping area of the province.
He urged the World Bank to provide technical and financial support so crops and desert areas can be sprayed at the earliest or else locust swarm attacks will destroy crops and develop food insecurity across the province.
The World Bank approved $10 million for the locust control programme, advising the provincial government to divert the funds from the Sindh Agriculture Growth Project and start the locust control project.
The financial institution will arrange more funds for the agriculture growth project. The meeting decided to constitute a team of the World Bank and the Sindh Planning & Development Department to smoothen the way for restructuring, repurposing and realigning the portfolio.