Legislators seek proper utilisation of World Bank funds

ISLAMABAD: Legislators of Upper House on Friday claimed that World Bank assistance worth $450 million three projects for agriculture promotion is not utilizing appropriately and urged the government to properly monitor it. 
Though secretary finance Waqar Masood was of the view that these three projects are running in different provinces but the senators claimed that there are just paper works and practically there is nothing on ground. Briefing the Senate standing committee on finance, secretary EAD Saleem Sethi said the World Bank has approved four projects for agriculture promotion, in which three projects were ongoing while the forth one is in pipe line. 
The ongoing projects are Punjab Irrigated Agriculture Productivity Improvement Program Project, Balochistan Small Scall Irrigation Project and Sindh Water Sector Improvement Project. The Pipeline Project is Sindh Agriculture Growth Project. 
The EAD Secretary said Punjab Irrigated Agriculture Productivity Improvement Program Project was approved in 2012 with total cost of $423.5 million with $250 million as foreign exchange component (FEC). Completion date of the project is 2018 and objective of the project is to improve the productivity of water use in irrigated agriculture. Up till may 2014, $87.2 million has been disbursed by the World Bank for this project. The committee was of the view that as Punjab chief minister usually go along with PM on foreign tour, therefore, they can easily monitor the foreign funded projects. Main problems of getting funding for rest of the three provinces, whose chief ministers have never gone to abroad along with PM. 
The EAD Secretary told the senators that this project was approved by ECNEC in 2007 with cost of Rs1.5 billion with loan component of $25 million. The completion date of the project was 2014 but it was extended to achieve complete targets of the project. Up till May 2014 an amount of $22 million has been disbursed under the project. Main targets of the project are to enhance water storage capacity of Bund Kushdil Khan (BKK) Reservoir, and assist the province to improve the management of scarce water resources in the Pishin Lora Basin (PLB). 
Senator Sardar Fateh Muhammad Muhammad Hassani told the committee that 80 percent of dams in Balochistan are full from mud and need cleanness. Same is the fate of this project and there is no proper monitoring of it, he claimed. 
Sindh Water Sector Improvement Project Salem Sethi, Secretary EAC told the committee that this project, phase I is signed with WB on 2007 with total loan agreement $175 million. The closing date was 2013 but it was further extended with cost of additional $150 million and the WB has shown willingness to fund the project. Up till May 2014, an amount of $129 million has been disbursed by the WB. Objective of the project is to improve the efficiency of irrigation water distribution in thress areas water boards (Ghotki, Left Bank and Nara cananl system). 
Senator Islamudding Shaikh told the committee that the government efforts of the finance and EAD bring foreign assistance in Pakistan but then it was looted and unable to achieve its desire results. 
Chairperson of the Committee Senator Nasreen Jalil directed the concerned ministry to provide details of the entire WB assistance project to the committee. She also directed the Planning Commission to provide details of all foreign funded projects with details. 
Secretary Finance Waqar Masood  told the committee that after 18th Amendment provinces are fully empowered to utilize its own resources but for foreign funded project, they are answerable to federal government. He said the federal government is playing the role of a bridge between donors and provinces. Once the agreement final, cash receive by federal government and forwarded to provinces and same is the process of repayment to donors.

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