ISLAMABAD – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) Vice-President Wencai Zhang has said that the ADB has planned to significantly increase the country’s sovereign operations to $7.1 billion over 3 years.
Along with its continued focus on energy, infrastructure development, and institutional reforms, ADB is also re-engaging in education and health, and social safety net through income support program, he said while talking to various dignitaries during his recent visit to Pakistan.
During his 2-day visit to the country, Zhang met with Finance Minister Asad Umar, Planning and Development Minister Khusro Bakhtiar, Education Minister Shafqat Mehmood, Adviser to Prime Minister on Institutional Reforms Dr Ishrat Hussain, as well as other government officials and development partners.
In his meetings, Zhang congratulated the new administration on assuming office and noted the government’s “100-day agenda” that prioritizes revitalizing economic growth, transforming governance and revolutionizing social services, said a statement issued by ADB on Friday.
“ADB and Pakistan have a more than 50-year history of strong partnership,” said Zhang. “We are committed to deepening our cooperation with the new government and supporting its development agenda to bring prosperity to the people of Pakistan.”
Under the current country partnership strategy (CPS), 2015–2019 and the country operations business plan, 2018 -2020, ADB is focused on ensuring high, sustained, and inclusive growth for Pakistan.
Zhang noted the country’s economic growth momentum in recent years, driven by domestic demand and improvements in security, energy supply, and public infrastructure projects.
However, the widening current account and fiscal deficits are key challenges to the economy. He stressed the importance of economic stability and offered ADB’s support in improving Pakistan’s competitiveness, promote the private sector, increase trade openness, and transform the institutions and economy.
Pakistan is an important member of the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) to which ADB is extending programmatic support to deepen regional economic integration. Ahead of the CAREC Ministerial Conference in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, in November, Zhang said the ADB is willing to support Pakistan in developing economic corridors within the framework of CAREC and ADB’s Strategy 2030.
“ADB will help Pakistan upgrade its transport networks and trade facilitation with neighbouring countries and transform the physical connectivity gains into economic gains through the promotion and development of economic corridors and special economic zones,” he said.
The ADB has committed over $32 billion in the project and technical assistance to Pakistan as of 30 September 2018.