ISLAMABAD - Asian Development Bank (ADB) Vice President Wencai Zhang on Thursday said that the bank would release almost two billion dollars loan to Pakistan during ongoing financial year 2017-18.

He said that currently ADB is disbursing around $1.5-$1.6 billion annually to Pakistan. However, the ADB is trying to do more, as the Bank would release nearly two billion dollars in the current fiscal year.  The ADB would provide $6 billion to Pakistan under the three-year (2018-20) operation plan. The government of Pakistan is asking us to disburse $2.5 billion annually, said Vice President ADB, who is currently visiting to Pakistan to discuss ADB’s development partnership with the Pakistan’s economic team. He met with Finance Minister, Railways Minister, Planning and Development Minister, Water and power minister and chairman NHA.

“In coming years we will continue to support projects and especially infrastructure and road projects as traditionally a lot of projects have been done,” Wencai Zhang said while talking to journalists.

Wencai Zhang said that stable political situation in Pakistan is important for reforms and development of the country. Political stability is always important for the economic development of the country. “It will be the government of Pakistan to decide to approach IMF after the upcoming general election. However, the ADB would continue to help Pakistan in reforms in power sector and public sector entities after the general election,” he replied to a question. 

He appreciated the economic gains achieved by the incumbent government during last four years. He said that Pakistan had completed three years IMF programme, improved macroeconomic situation and achieving higher economic growth. However, he emphasised to continue the ongoing structural reforms to consolidate the economic gains. The country needs to achieve economic growth of 7 percent in next few years, which is achievable, he added.

Vice President of Asian Development Bank said that they are exploring social sector for investment. Health, education, and water resource management are so important for the economic growth of the country, he explained.

The ADB is currently financing the power sector and public sector entities reforms in Pakistan. “We will see other public sector entities like Pakistan International Airlines and Pakistan Steel Mills if government asks for financing,” said former country director Werner Liepach, who was also present on the occasion. The ADB has supported China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is very helpful in regional integration. He said that ADB is interested to finance the projects of Pakistan Railways.                                                                     

Earlier, Wencai Zhang called on the Finance Minister Ishaq Dar. The Vice President said that development cooperation has expanded between Pakistan and ADB during the last few years, which has resulted in impressive levels of approvals and disbursement of aid from ADB to Pakistan in FY 2016-17.He said that ADB is interested in learning more about the government’s new initiatives, including the Pakistan Development Fund (PDF) and the Pakistan Infrastructure Bank (PIB), with a view to potentially collaborate on them with the government. The Vice President said that the ADB’s recent experience of policy-based lending for reforms in Pakistan has been very successful. Both sides agreed to identify further areas where reforms are required, which may be good candidates for policy based lending. The areas that are being explored in this regard include governance and public sector enterprise reforms. He reiterated ADB’s commitment to supporting development initiatives in Pakistan.

The finance minister appreciated the role of ADB as a development partner for Pakistan. He congratulated the Vice President on ADB’s 50th Anniversary, and appreciated the Vice President’s visit to Pakistan to celebrate the anniversary. He appreciated contributions of former Country Director, Werner Liepach, and the progress made in a short time by current Country Director, Ms. Xiaohong Yang.

The finance minister said that, after having achieved macroeconomic stability, the government is now focused on achieving higher, sustainable and inclusive economic growth. He said that federal PSDP of Rs. 1,001 billion for FY 2018 is over three times higher than federal PSDP for FY 2013. He highlighted that provincial transfers have increased significantly due to increase in tax collections during the last 4 years, and as a result, the provinces are in good fiscal shape. He said that both ADB and the Government of Pakistan must work together to further strengthen this relationship. He appreciated ADB’s interest in participating in the government’s initiatives, such as PDF and PIB, which will enable mobilization of resources for further infrastructure projects in the country. The finance minister said that the Government of Pakistan will continue to work closely with development partners on initiatives aimed at improving the quality of lives of the people of Pakistan.