WB launches relief fund


Shahbaz Rana August 05, 2010

ISLAMABAD: The World Bank has launched a multi-donor trust fund with an initial contribution of $80 million to rebuild the war-ravaged areas of Pakistan, disappointing authorities in Islamabad who were expecting billions of dollars to cope with the losses.

Initially three countries have pooled $80 million to launch the trust fund.

The WB country office in Islamabad said that nine countries have committed to lend $130 million for the initial phase of reconstruction in the most affected areas.

Australia, Britain and the US have already signed administrative agreements and provided a total of $80 million. The other intending donors are Denmark, the European Union, Finland, Germany, Italy and Turkey.

The trust fund would be used to reconstruct the war-battered areas of Khyber-Pakthunkhwa, Federally Administered Tribal Areas and Balochistan. The fund would be used for the promotion of enhanced and sustainable delivery of basic services, supporting livelihoods through productive activities, employment creation, skills development and microfinance.

Pakistan has paid a price of $43 billion for becoming a partner in the war on terror. Besides this a heavy toll has been paid as thousands of innocent people have lost their lives as a result of suicide or drone attacks.

According to a joint assessment of the Asian Development Bank and the WB, only the Malakand Operation, launched to root out Taliban from the northern districts, caused a loss of $1.8 billion.

“The recent events in K-P and Fata have imposed an immense cost on the local economy,”
admits the WB.

The government had estimated that donors would contribute up to $2 billion in the fund. However, despite a lapse of over one year since the government first floated the idea, only three donors lined up to contribute a paltry $80 million.

The donors are suspicious about the just use of their money, as the administrative control of the Fund would be with the World Bank.

Former finance minister Shaukat Tarin, who envisioned the establishment of the fund, told The Express Tribune that because of the credibility issue the trust fund would be operated by the WB. He said the fund would be a vehicle to channel bilateral and multilateral donors’ contributions. Pakistan also learnt a bitter lesson during last fiscal year. The so-called Friends of Democratic Pakistan promised to provide $5.4 billion to Pakistan. However, in 2009-10 it received less than $1 billion against that year’s commitment of $2.5 billion.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 6th, 2010.

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