ISLAMABAD, Jan 13 (APP): President Mamnoon Hussain Monday emphasized upon the World Bank to consider financing the energy and water resource projects in Pakistan as the country was facing acute energy and water crises adversely affecting the economy. In a meeting with Country Director World Bank Pakistan, Rachid Benmessaoud who called on him at the Aiwan-e-Sadr, the President said that World Bank could play a major role in supporting the efforts of Pakistan’s government in addressing the power and energy problems. He appreciated the working relationship of the World Bank with Pakistan over a period of time and expressed the confidence that the World Bank would continue extending its support for the development projects in the country.
Rachid Benmessaoud briefed the President about the new Country Partnership Strategy (CPS) of the World Bank for the next five years (2015-19) and also about various projects of the Bank aimed at socio-economic development of Pakistan. The CEM and Policy notes emphasized that implementing required structural reforms adhoc and piecemeal would not yield results.
Reforms should rather reinforce each other, as the issues cut across sectors. For example, current tax and subsidy policies create avenues for corruption, as well as reduce the government’s ability to supply electricity, which then reduces business competitiveness and job productivity.
The CEM of the World Bank highlighted six urgent major actions for government’s consideration. The most important would be to initiate reform in the power sector, as progress in all other areas depends on it.
It is estimated that annual economic growth could be 1.5-2% higher without the load-shedding crisis, the CEM said.
The second most important reform to initiate early on would be revenue mobilization, as the creation of fiscal space is essential to increase urgent public investment.
Third action would be to reinvigorate State Owned Enterprise (SOE) reform and the business environment.
Fourth would be the implementation of the regional agenda, focused on all regional countries.
The fifth priority would be to improve human development, with much room to grow in education, health, and social protection and the sixth, to make all these efforts more effective would be to strengthen governance and accountability.
Implementing these reforms,the World Bank said that requires strong political will and takes both leadership and building consensus.
Powerful individuals and well-organized vested interests will continue to avoid changes, in areas like taxation, agriculture, and trade reform.
Thus, broad consensus-building with a solid communication effort is needed as part of the process to overcome these interests.
Complementing leadership at the top will also require skilled managers with the capacity to champion, design and especially implement reforms through the political and social milieu of Pakistan. Financial support from donors is secondary, and not determinant. If reforms are forced, they can even be counter
The World Bank said that special attention should be given to the most vulnerable people or areas.
Many of the proposed reforms are most likely to benefit those already well integrated into Pakistan’s economy.
Large groups of people particularly the poor, youth, and women-will need special measures to ensure that they too can participate in and benefit from these reforms.
Special measures will also be needed to ensure that the most conflict-affected areas are not left out.
The key to success will be implementation, implementation, and implementation. It will do no good, and probably some harm, to take half-hearted steps that will then be partly reversed when facing obstacles.
Host reforms, because they are complex and intertwined, will need concerted actions by multiple official entities over several years.