PESHAWAR: The PTI-led provincial government has come out with all guns blazing to finish its tenure on a high note as it has decided in principle to obtain Rs70 billion International Development Association’s loan from the World Bank, according to sources.
“The loan would be spent on those projects, which the provincial government considers capable of generating enough revenue to pay back the principal amount with interest,” sources said. The loan would be acquired from International Development Association (IDA), which is part of World Bank that helps the world’s poorest countries.
Sources said that expenditure of Rs70 billion on revenue generating projects was expected to have visible socio- economic impact and bring positive long term benefits with regard to own-source revenue generation. “Currently the provincial government’s own- source revenue generation is only six per cent of its annual expenditure,” they added.
Amount to be spent in agriculture, tourism, urban uplift and hydropower sectors
Sources said that in view of the initial consultation with the IDA, the loan was expected to have a comfortably long grace period. Regarding interest on the loan, sources said that it would be very low while the loan would be flexible and its release would be speedy.
“IDA is the cheapest loan available and is in fact sometimes considered closer to a grant rather than a loan,” they added.
Sources said that the loan would be mostly invested in four sectors including agriculture, tourism, urban development and hydropower. “These sectors have been identified in consultation with the World Bank and equate to the competitive advantages, which the province possesses,” they added.
Sources said that all relevant departments of the provincial government were consulted about selection of the shortlisted projects, which were designed to change the socio-economic profile of the province in a period of two years.
“The provincial government has shortlisted 65 projects from amongst the long lists submitted by the departments based on the agreed criteria,” sources said.
They said that soon after the decision to accept the loan, detailed discussion would take place between the representatives of the provincial government and World Bank.
They added that during subsequent discussion all aspects of the shortlisted projects would be discussed one by one for final approval.
When reminded of the inability of health and education projects to generate revenue, possibly resulting in their exclusion from the list, sources said that due to the positive impact of investment in health and education, the government might make an exception for those sectors.
When asked as to how the government would manage to payback its liabilities as some of the projects in the final list may not generate revenue, sources said that a fine balance would have to be maintained among such projects.
They added that some schemes would definitely generate higher revenues that could be used to pay back for other essential projects, which didn’t have the ability to pay back.
“Once the agreement is finalised, the provincial government would face different implementation challenges, the top most among those being the laborious and sometimes cumbersome processes of the World Bank and the slow response time of the provincial government departments,” said sources.
They said that government would need to make tough decisions and put in place an implementation mechanism on war footing to provide tangible benefits to people within its tenure.
The prominent schemes include Jabori hydropower project, Mansehra, Karora hydropower project Shangla, Koto hydropower project Dir Lower, missing link of the Ring Road Peshawar, installation of Saiful Maluk chairlift and establishment of IT Park in Peshawar.
Published in Dawn, December 5th, 2016