ISLAMABAD (APP) - The Asian Development Bank (ADB) here on Wednesday launched the Country-Partnership Strategy (CPS) 2009-2013, a $4.4 billion lending programme meant to aid the government in its goals of facilitating structural change, promoting investment, and improving institutional effectiveness. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Pakistan government have designed a major new strategic partnership aimed at promoting inclusive and sustainable economic growth through structural reforms and investment in the energy and infrastructure sectors for the welfare of the people of Pakistan, Country Director Rune Stroem told a press conference. Economist of the Bank Safdar Pervez was also present on the occasion. Stroem highlighting the strategy said the ADB's Board of Directors had approved in Manila on March 5 2009, the Country-Partnership Strategy (CPS) 2009-2013 that will align with the government's goal of facilitating structural change, promoting investment, and improving institutional effectiveness. He said the ADB has consulted the Pakistan government and other stakeholders while devising the CPS. "The CPS will support Pakistan's fight against poverty and its pursuit of prosperity by tackling binding constraints to inclusive economic growth," said Stroem, Country Director of ADB's Pakistan Resident Mission. "Supporting the government's reform agenda and improving the energy, transport, and urban infrastructure will help reduce the cost of doing business and strengthen the underlying competitiveness of the economy," he remarked. He added the CPS outlines a second generation of economic reforms aimed at reducing distortions, accelerating market creation, eliminating governance and institutional bottlenecks, and strengthening public financial management reform. These reforms, he said will help enhance private sector investment, support diversification of the economy, create jobs, and improve the efficiency of government functioning. He was of the view that in a country where crippling power outages increase the cost and challenges of doing business, the CPS aims to strengthen Pakistan's energy supply chain. Measures include augmenting and expanding transmission stations and lines, strengthening distribution companies, and developing power generation facilities using renewable sources, he remarked. He added that these and other improvements aim to contribute to reducing electricity outages by a further 30 per cent by 2012 and increasing the number of grid-connected electricity consumers from 60 per cent in 2008 to 70 per cent by 2013. Pakistan transport infrastructure is another area of the CPS's strategic focus. Financial and technical assistance will be supplied to improve connectivity along the National Trade Corridor and other major highways. This will enable export firms to be more competitive by reducing transportation costs and travel time. The CPS projects that by 2017 the road travel time between Peshawar and Karachi will be halved to 36 hours from the 2006 time of 72 hours, he remarked. The Country Director ADB said that improving the quality of lives of citizens in cities and towns receives a major emphasis in the CPS. Strengthening water supply and sanitation services and urban transportation systems will not only lead to enhanced economic competitiveness but will also yield health and environment improvement dividends for the benefit of urban citizens, he remarked. He further said that strengthening implementation of projects and programmes and capacity building is key to obtaining development results. The CPS provides a platform for ADB and the Government to work together to improve the effectiveness of the assistance earmarked under the strategy. Pakistan, he said has received about $19.8 billion in loans since joining ADB in 1966, with about $14 billion disbursed as of the end of 2008. The lending programme in 2008 was a record that included $1.87 billion disbursement and $1.2 billion in newly approved assistance. As for December 2008, ADB's active portfolio in Pakistan included 62 public sector leans in the areas of infrastructure, social sectors, governance and earthquake rehabilitation, for a total of $5.1 billion. ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in the Asia and Pacific region through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members - 48 from the region. Stroem said that the banks strategy was targeted and focussed and meant to benefit the people of Pakistan and help the government provide them better services delivery to the masses in the country. Replying to a question, he said that ADB was also an observer in Pak-IMF review meetings held in Dubai recently. He lauded the economic policies including 9-point economic stabilization programme and added that Pakistan's IMF programme is also on track.