The World Bank has approved a grant of $20 million for war torn areas of the country, specifically Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), but also including parts of Balochistan and Fata. The grant is intended for the rehabilitation of small and medium size businesses which is expected to create 8,000 jobs.
Under the Multi-Donor Trust Fund (MDTF), established to rehabilitate war-affected areas of K-P, Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) and Balochistan the Economic Revitalisation of K-P and Fata project was signed here by Pakistan and the World Bank.
The project is expected to create sustainable employment opportunities through rehabilitation of some 850 Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), mobilising investments and building institutional capacities to support regulatory reforms, said a WB handout.
The project is a three year endeavour that will rehabilitate, upgrade and support the development of crisis affected SMEs in these areas.
It is expected that 8,000 jobs, direct and indirect, will be generated in enterprises supported by the project. In addition to this 1,000 SMEs access business development services will be offered under the project.
The project also aims at attracting $10 million for K-P and Fata from migrant workers settled across the country.
The project will be implemented by the Government of K-P and Fata Secretariat, while SME Development Authority (Smeda) will be the implementing partner for the SME development component.
The donors have so far pledged $140 million for the MDTF. As much as 53 per cent of the pledges would be spent in K-P, 35 per cent in Fata and 12 per cent in Balochistan. Australia, Denmark, the European Union, Finland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Turkey, UK, and the USA have agreed to pool their resources through the Fund to support these reconstruction activities.
“Small businesses are the backbone of the economy of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Fata”, said Abdul Wajid Rana, Secretary of the Economic Affairs Division. He said these businesses suffered immense losses in the militancy crisis of 2009. Now there is chance to recover and help the province stand on its feet once again.
“The economic growth of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Fata regions had come to a grinding halt due to the militancy crisis, said Rachid Benmessaoud, World Bank Country Director for Pakistan. He said this MDTF-funded project will help put the lives of the residents of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Fata back on track by providing support to SMEs which serve as catalysts for job creation.
“By partnering with Smeda and having the governments of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Fata implement the project, we are confident of the outcomes and look forward to a brighter future for the people of these regions”, said Benmessaoud.
The overall objective of the MDTF is to support reconstruction and reduce the potential for renewed conflict in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Fata and Balochistan. The World Bank-administered MDTF became operational on August 5, 2010, and provides a coordinated financing mechanism for the Government of Pakistan’s development programs in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Fata and Balochistan.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 26th, 2011.