Punjab asks centre to arrange WB loan to repair barrages
By Zamir Haider
ISLAMABAD: The Punjab government has asked the federal government to arrange a loan from the World Bank (WB) urgently to repair two damaged barrages in the province, a Finance Division official told Daily Times on Tuesday.
“The federal government has started negotiating with the WB and the Punjab government is also in contact with the bank for the loan. It is expected that the loan will be arranged from the WB’s International Bank of Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and not the International Development Association (IDA), which provides a cheaper loan,” the official added.
Cracks had appeared in the Taunsa and Punjnad Barrages for which the Punjab government needed more resources than allocated in the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) 2004-05 that covers a major portion for the water sector, he said. “The Punjab government not only wants to repair the two barrages but also wants money for some other important projects in the water sector. That is why it requires funds from the WB,” the official added.
The Punjab government had identified projects in the water sector for upgrading, strengthening and consolidating the province’s water systems.
“The federal government is still trying to convince the WB for an IDA loan but it appears that the bank will settle for an IBRD loan and soon the WB and Punjab government will finalise the modalities,” he said.
The Punjab government had earlier explained to donors at the Pakistan Development Forum (PDF) that it needed to construct 18 water reservoirs, develop 19 canals and 20 line canals to improve the province’s irrigation system and at the same time ensure sustainable drinking water resources. “The Punjab government presented 14 small water sector projects with an outlay of Rs 21.6 billion and five major projects with an estimated cost of Rs 96.5 billion at the PDF,” the official said. But due to the emergency, it (Punjab government) had sought more funds from the WB, he added.
The official said the federal government through its Executive Committee of National Economic Council (ECNEC) had already approved four irrigation projects for which the federal government had committed to providing Rs 20.17 billion. The ECNEC had also approved three projects for rehabilitating and modernising barrages in the Punjab with an estimated cost of Rs 29.3 billion, which would also be funded by the federal government, he added.