Amidst a challenging economic recovery stage, the approval of three projects worth $658.8 million by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) is a positive development for Pakistan’s pursuit of inclusive and sustainable growth. More so, seeing the projects being focused on the rehabilitation of schools affected by last year’s flash floods is a breath of fresh air. One of the three projects is going to invest in the agri sector in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, to set the ground for dealing with food insecurity. An additional fund dedicated to rebuilding 1600 schools is good news for the country.
The announcement from ADB comes when there are signals of delay in securing assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Though challenges in other sectors of the economy will remain, ADB’s assistance will contribute to sustainable infrastructure and development in Pakistan, especially in education and agriculture. It is unfortunate that the agriculture economy has suffered profound fallouts of the recession and even with an extreme potential of world-class produce, agriculture could not earn good revenues. Add to that, the country’s own food insecurity has been propelled by the overall decline of the agricultural sector.
ADB’s decision also compels one to draw a comparison between the approach of Western-led financial institutions and Asia’s financial institutions. While Pakistan, as a developing country, has greatly struggled with securing assistance from the former, the latter has demonstrated more sensitivity and mindfulness towards the needs of the country. The outlook of Western institutions is starkly different from initiatives that saw their birth in Asia. The latter are more supportive towards countries of the Global South.
The Improved Resource Mobilisation and Utilisation Reform Programme, backed by a $300 million loan, aims to foster sustainable, broad-based economic growth by transforming tax administration and strengthening resource mobilization. Likewise, the Sindh Secondary Education Improvement Project dedicates $275 million in additional funds to making climate-resilient schools. These projects will help Pakistan meet its targets of sustainable and inclusive growth and development.