KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah met the World Bank President David Malpass, where they discussed $2.77billion ongoing projects and also approved $1.93 billion worth of new projects in the province. The new projects include the rehabilitation of Guddu and Sukkur Barrages as well as the overhaul of the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board.
The meeting, held at the CM House on Friday, was attended by WB South Asia Vice-President Hartwig Schafer, International Finance Corporation Regional Vice-President Nena Stoiljkovic, Equitable Growth, Finance and Institutions Vice President Ceyla Pazarbasioglu, WB Country Director for Pakistan Illango Patchamuthu and others. Meanwhile, the chief minister was assisted by Chief Secretary Mumtaz Shah, provincial cabinet members Nisar Khuhro, Ismail Rahu, Saeed Ghani, Imtiaz Shaikh, Azra Pechuho, Shehla Raza, Nasir Shah, Murtaza Wahab, Planning and Development chairperson Naheed Shah, Principal Secretary to CM Sajid Jamal Abro, finance, education and home secretaries, Sindh Revenue Board Chairman Khalid Mahmood and others.
In his presentation to the WB delegation, the chief minister said that the Sukkur Barrage was one of the most important barrages of the country and it was considered to be a lifeline for the rural economy. Similarly, Guddu Barrage is also important for the agro-economy of the province, he explained.
According to Shah, there was a proposal to construct a new barrage at Sukkur, but it would be a huge project in terms of financial implications. Therefore, the provincial government has decided to rehabilitate the Sukkur and Guddu barrages. The World Bank agreed to finance $328 million for the rehabilitation of both barrages.
Karachi reforms and investments
The chief minister said that the Sindh government had requested the World Bank to conduct the Karachi Diagnostic Study in 2016, leading to the Karachi Transformation Strategy which developed a holistic plan to revitalise the city.
This plan has helped roll out reforms and investments in various sectors including water and sanitation, urban transport systems, and the local government system. These investments, coupled with attention to indicators having a bearing on the business environment, are expected to impact the ease of doing business which is bound to make Karachi the preferred choice of businesses, said the CM.
The chief minister said that the newly-signed ‘Competitive and Livable City of Karachi’ (CLICK) is a $ 230 million project, through which the provincial government plans to initiate local government institutional reforms in all six District Municipal Corporations and the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation. “It includes a component for conditional performance grants to local agencies for investing in infrastructure,” he said, adding that “this funding for improving the urban and municipal infrastructure at the DMC level is expected to upgrade the livability and simultaneously improve the governance of local government institutions”.
‘Click’ also includes property tax reforms and enhancing “doing business” reforms.
CM Shah said that the Karachi Water Services Improvement Project (KWSSIP) is a $1.6 billion program to be rolled out in three phases. Its first phase worth $100 million has been approved.
This envisages institutional reforms of the KWSB, strengthening its HR, technical capacity and improving its planning. It also includes some priority works. He urged the WB team to approve the launch of all the phases one after another so that it could make a clear impact. The visiting team approved the provincial government’s proposal.
The Karachi Neighborhood Improvement Project (KNIP) is a $98 million project, focused on improving urban infrastructure and creating better public spaces. It also involves a reform component for doing business, under which the Sindh government was able to set up a digital platform for the Sindh Building Control Authority. KNIP is also a type of pilot project that will guide the Sindh government in rolling out reforms and investments for the local government set up in the province.
The $381 million Karachi Urban Mobility Project (KUMP) was approved by the WB team, with the Sindh government now ready to start its implementation. The chief minister said that combined with the Bus Rapid Transit System and the Karachi Circular Railway, the mass transit system would provide Karachi seamless connectivity between residential districts, business districts, industrial estates and the ports.
Strengthening the rural economy
The chief minister said that a large percentage of the province’s population depends on agriculture for sustenance and there was a continuous need to invest in agriculture productivity. “This requires investment in irrigation infrastructure, improved access to better inputs and mechanised farming and improvement in agriculture value chains. However, the most significant aspect that we wish to highlight is the increase in agriculture yields,” he said.
The $187 million Sindh Irrigated Agriculture Productivity Enhancement Project (SIAPEP) provides the required investment for on-farm water management. Meanwhile, the Sindh Agriculture Growth Project (SAGP) worth $76 million, is focused on improving various agriculture value chains and livestock in the province.
The chief minister said that the $61.6 million Response to Reduce Stunting Programme (SERRSP) and the $36.24 million Nutrition Support Programme were both very important projects. He said that the Sindh government was implementing the six-year (2016-2021) multi-sectoral ‘Sindh Accelerated Action Plan for Reduction of Stunting and Malnutrition’, aimed at reducing the stunting rate from the existing 45% to 30% by 2021.
He added that the WB-supported Nutrition Support Programme was initiated in 2014 and the SERRSP was funded by the Sindh government. “The 2018 National Nutrition Survey shows that the overall rate of stunting in Sindh has reduced from 48 to 45.5 percent, however it is higher than the national figure of 40%,” he said.
The chief minister said that his government would need to make more efforts to attain the overall targets under the multi-dimensional poverty alleviation programmes. “The support on nutrition programme may need to be extended for another period of four years or so,” he said, on which the World Bank asked the provincial government to formally submit the request.
Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah discussing way forward under Phase 2 of
Intermediary cities’ uplift
The CM said that the provincial government was planning to undertake a more planned investment in the intermediary cities for balanced growth across the province. “This includes investment in urban infrastructure, urban facilities and spaces, market infrastructure for improving livability, economic growth and job opportunities,” the CM explained. “Without investing in intermediary cities, endeavours to create economic surplus won’t be able to keep the demographic pressure to intermediary cities,” he said, adding that the increase in economic opportunities in major cities has to be done in tandem with the increase in livability in these cities. The WB president urged the provincial government to float a concept paper for the Intermediary Cities Improvement Programme so that it could be discussed in the next meeting.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 2nd, 2019.