Muhammad Hammad Azhar, Minister for Economic Affairs witnessed the loan signing of additional Financing for social Protection Development Project amounting to US$ 200 million between the Government of Pakistan and the Asian Development Bank.

The loan agreement was signed by Mr. Noor Ahmed, Secretary Economic Affairs Division and Ms. Xiaohong Yang, Country Director, Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Project Agreement was signed by Mr. Ali Raza Bhutta, Secretary BISP.

Social Protection Development will provide a financial cushion to the population that is below the poverty line and is vulnerable to economic shocks, by scaling up unconditional cash transfers. The project will also provide support to BISP for developing Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) modalities that can directly impact the root causes of poverty, i.e. poor health and education.

The incremental outputs will be: (i) continuation of UCT payments to eligible BISP beneficiaries, (ii) supporting further improvements in financial managements and control systems to support these cash transfers and (iii) strengthening policy research functions of BISP to support Ehsaas, the Government's national social protection and poverty alleviation policy. The additional financing will also provide an invaluable opportunity to set the direction of ADB's strategic engagement in social protection and poverty reduction Pakistan. Muhammad Azhar, Minister for Economic Affairs acknowledged ADB's support for Pakistan. He highlighted that additional financing for the project will enable the disbursement of unconditional cash transfer payments to eligible BISP beneficiaries and further improve BISP's capacity for financial management, policy research, data analysis and intervention design. This support is aligned to the government's Ehsaas poverty alleviation program and one of the key operational priorities of Strategy 2030 of the Asian Development Bank.

Xiaohong Yang, Country Director, stated that Asian Development Bank is one of the leading development partners of Pakistan ADB fully supports the government's development vision and policies. She expressed that BISP is one of the largest in Social Protection Programs in South Asia and it is also a part of larger government strategy, called Ehsaas, to reduce poverty and inequality.

She also reiterated ADB's strong commitment to further strengthening and expanding its partnership with Pakistan.