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World Bank helps Pakistanis Access Finance, Modernize Karachi

Islamabad, June 16, 2017 (PPI-OT):The World Bank approved a package of $223 million on Thursday to help millions of Pakistanis, especially women and the poor, to get access to financial services and to improve living conditions in parts of Karachi.

“The two new projects have a strong element of inclusion that is at the heart of the World Bank’s partnership with Pakistan, especially where women, youth and the poor are concerned,’’ said Illango Patchamuthu, World Bank Country Director for Pakistan. “Five percent of the world’s unbanked population live in Pakistan. We need to change this to empower people financially, especially women. Karachi contributes about 15 percent of the country’s economy and the World Bank’s support will improve public spaces, mobility, and safety for its citizens.”

The Financial Inclusion and Infrastructure Project will provide $137 million to help millions of Pakistanis, especially women and the poor who do not have bank accounts and cannot get loans, to have access to these and other financial services. It will upgrade Pakistan’s payment systems to ensure affordable and faster payment services. The project is designed to implement selected actions of the National Financial Inclusion Strategy.

“Our goal is to provide transparent and accessible financial services including micro and small loans to individuals and firms, particularly women and women-owned businesses in Pakistan,” said Gabi George Afram, the project’s Task Team Leader. “We will be working closely with the Central Directorate of National Savings to provide more efficient and convenient access to financial services to 7 million clients through computerization of their financial systems.”

The project will improve access to financial and banking services for 50 percent of all adults, half of them women, throughout Pakistan by 2020. It will also boost private sector credits to small and medium businesses to 15 percent from 7 percent in 2015. The $86 million Karachi Neighbourhood Improvement Project will benefit almost one million residents, business owners and commuters by improving living conditions in the Saddar, Korangi and Malir areas of Karachi.

It will help improve the safety, accessibility, and attractiveness of public spaces in Karachi, such as streets, parks, city squares and pedestrian areas. It will ensure equal access to all including women, youth and the poor. The project will also make it easier for the public and investors to access services such as construction permits and business registrations.

“This project represents the start of a long-term partnership between the city of Karachi and the World Bank Group and will help strengthen confidence in the city’s administration among residents,” said Jaafar Friaa, the project’s Task Team Leader. “A systematic engagement with citizens will ensure that investments in public spaces are responsive to the local context, and build community ownership of the project.”

This project will support the setting up of a multi-member Steering Committee that includes the local government, civil society and private sector. It will guide the development of the city by laying out a vision. Both credits are financed by the International Development Association, the World Bank’s fund for the poor, with a maturity of 25 years, including a grace period of 5 years.

For more information, contact:
World Bank
20-A, Shahrah-e-Jamhuriat,
G-5/1, Islamabad
Tel: +92-51-2279641, +92-51-9090000

Global growth set to strengthen to 2.7 percent as Outlook Brightens

Islamabad, June 05, 2017 (PPI-OT):The World Bank forecasts that global economic growth will strengthen to 2.7 percent in 2017 as a pickup in manufacturing and trade, rising market confidence, and stabilizing commodity prices allow growth to resume in commodity-exporting emerging market and developing economies.

According to the World Bank’s June 2017 Global Economic Prospects, growth in advanced economies is expected to accelerate to 1.9 percent in 2017, which will also benefit the trading partners of these countries. Global financing conditions remain favourable and commodity prices have stabilized. Against this improving international backdrop, growth in emerging market and developing economies as a whole will pick up to 4.1 percent this year from 3.5 percent in 2016.

Growth among the world’s seven largest emerging market economies is forecast to increase and exceed its long-term average by 2018. Recovering activity in these economies should have significant positive effects for growth in other emerging and developing economies and globally.

Nevertheless, substantial risks cloud the outlook. New trade restrictions could derail the welcome rebound in global trade. Persistent policy uncertainty could dampen confidence and investment. Amid exceptionally low financial market volatility, a sudden market reassessment of policy-related risks or of the pace of advanced-economy monetary policy normalization could provoke financial turbulence. Over the longer term, persistently weak productivity and investment growth could erode long-term growth prospects in emerging market and developing economies that are key to poverty reduction.

“For too long, we’ve seen low growth hold back progress in the fight against poverty, so it is encouraging to see signs that the global economy is gaining firmer footing,” World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said. “With a fragile but real recovery now underway, countries should seize this moment to undertake institutional and market reforms that can attract private investment to help sustain growth in the long-term. Countries must also continue to invest in people and build resilience against overlapping challenges, including climate change, conflict, forced displacement, famine, and disease.”

The report highlights concern about mounting debt and deficits among emerging market and developing economies, raising the prospect that an abrupt rise in interest rates or tougher borrowing conditions might be damaging. At the end of 2016, government debt exceeded its 2007 level by more than 10 percentage points of GDP in more than half of emerging market and developing economies and fiscal balances worsened from their 2007 levels by more than 5 percentage points of GDP in one-third of these countries.

“The reassuring news is that trade is recovering,” said World Bank Chief Economist Paul Romer. “The concern is that investment remains weak. In response, we are shifting our priorities for lending toward projects that can spur follow-on investment by the private sector.”

A bright spot in the outlook is a recovery in trade growth to 4 percent after a post-financial crisis low of 2.5 percent last year. The report highlights a key area of weakness in global trade, trade among firms not linked through ownership. Such trade through outsourcing channels has slowed much more sharply than intra-firm trade in recent years. This is a reminder of the importance of a healthy global trading network for the less integrated firms that account for the majority of enterprises.

“After a prolonged slowdown, recent acceleration in activity in some of the largest emerging markets is a welcome development for growth in their regions and for the global economy,” said World Bank Development Economics Prospects Director Ayhan Kose. “Now is the time for emerging market and developing economies to assess their vulnerabilities and strengthen policy buffers against adverse shocks.”

Regional Outlooks:

East Asia and Pacific: Growth in the region is projected to ease to 6.2 percent in 2017 and to 6.1 percent in 2018 as the gradual slowdown in China is offset by a pickup elsewhere led by a rebound among commodity exporters and accelerating growth in Thailand. Growth in China is anticipated to slow to 6.5 percent this year and 6.3 percent in 2018. Excluding China, the region is seen advancing at a more rapid 5.1 percent rate in 2017 and 5.2 percent in 2018. Indonesia is anticipated to pick up to 5.2 percent in 2017 and 5.3 percent in 2018 as the effects of fiscal consolidation dissipate and as private activity picks up, supported by modestly rising commodity prices, improving external demand, and increased confidence due to reforms. Growth in the Philippines is forecast to hold steady at 6.9 percent this year and the next, led by a pickup in public and private investment. Thailand should similarly maintain 3.2 percent growth in 2017, accelerating to 3.3 percent next year, supported by greater public investment and recovering private consumption.

Europe and Central Asia: Growth in Europe and Central Asia is forecast to accelerate broadly to 2.5 percent in 2017, and to 2.7 percent in 2018, supported by continued recovery among commodity exporters and unwinding of geopolitical risks and domestic policy uncertainty in major economies in the region. Russia is expected to grow at a 1.3 percent rate in 2017 after a two-year recession and by 1.4 percent in 2018, with growth helped by gains in consumption. Kazakhstan is projected to expand at a 2.4 percent rate this year and 2.6 percent in 2018 as strengthening oil prices and an accommodative macroeconomic policy stance support economic activity. Among commodity importing economies, Turkey is projected to expand by 3.5 percent in 2017, supported by accommodative fiscal policy, and by 3.9 percent in 2018 as uncertainty abates, tourism recovers, and corporate balance sheets mend.

Latin America and the Caribbean: Growth in Latin America and the Caribbean is projected to strengthen to 0.8 percent in 2017 as Brazil and Argentina emerge from recession and rising commodity prices support agricultural and energy exporters. Brazil is forecast to expand 0.3 percent in 2017, with growth expected to pick up to a 1.8 percent rate 2018, while growth in Argentina is projected to expand at a 2.7 percent pace this year. Growth in Mexico is anticipated to moderate to 1.8 percent in 2017, principally due to contracting investment stemming from uncertainty about U.S. economic policy, before accelerating to 2.2 percent next year. A rising forecast for metal prices is expected to help Chile, where copper production should recover after a strike. Growth in Chile is forecast to accelerate modestly this year to a 1.8 percent pace and to 2 percent next year. In the Caribbean, rising tourism demand underlies an expected acceleration in growth to 3.3 percent in 2017 and 3.8 percent in 2018.

Middle East and North Africa: Growth in the region is projected to fall to 2.1 percent in 2017 as the adverse impact of Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries production cuts on oil exporters outweighs modestly improving conditions in oil importers. Growth is expected to pick up to 2.9 percent in 2018, assuming a moderation of geopolitical tensions and an increase in oil prices. Growth in Saudi Arabia, the largest economy in the region, is anticipated to ease to 0.6 percent as a result of the production cuts, before accelerating to a 2 percent pace in 2018. The Islamic Republic of Iran is seen slowing to a 4 percent rate before accelerating modestly to a 4.1 percent pace in 2018 as limited spare capacity in oil production and difficulty in accessing finance weigh on the country’s growth. Egypt’s economy is forecast to moderate in the current fiscal year before steadily improving over the medium-term, supported by the implementation of business climate reforms and improved competitiveness.

South Asia: Growth in the region is forecast to pick up to 6.8 percent in 2017 and accelerate to 7.1 percent in 2018, reflecting a solid expansion of domestic demand and exports. Excluding India, regional growth is anticipated to hold steady at 5.7 percent, rising to 5.8 percent, with growth accelerating in Bhutan, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka but easing in Bangladesh and Nepal. India is expected to accelerate to 7.2 percent in fiscal 2017 (April 1, 2017 – March 31, 2018) and 7.5 percent in next fiscal year. Pakistan is expected to pick up to a 5.2 percent rate in fiscal 2017 (July 1, 2016 – June 30, 2017) and to 5.5 percent in the next fiscal year, reflecting an upturn in private investment, increased energy supply, and improved security. Sri Lanka’s growth is forecast to accelerate to a 4.7 percent rate in 2017 and 5 percent in 2018, as international financial institution programs support economic reforms and boost private sector competitiveness.

Sub-Saharan Africa: Growth in Sub-Saharan Africa is forecast to pick up to 2.6 percent in 2017 and to 3.2 percent in 2018, predicated on moderately rising commodity prices and reforms to tackle macroeconomic imbalances. However, per capita output is projected to shrink by 0.1 percent in 2017 and to increase to a modest 0.7 percent growth pace over 2018-19. At those rates, growth will be insufficient to achieve poverty reduction goals in the region, particularly if constraints to more vigorous growth persist. Growth in South Africa is projected to rise to 0.6 percent in 2017 and accelerate to 1.1 percent in 2018. Nigeria is forecast to go from recession to a 1.2 percent growth rate in 2017, gaining speed to 2.4 percent in 2018. Growth in non-resource- intensive countries is anticipated to remain solid, supported by infrastructure investment, resilient services sectors, and the recovery of agricultural production. Ethiopia is forecast to expand by 8.3 percent in 2017, Tanzania by 7.2 percent, Côte d’Ivoire by 6.8 percent, and Senegal by 6.7 percent.

For more information, contact:
World Bank
20-A, Shahrah-e-Jamhuriat,
G-5/1, Islamabad
Tel: +92-51-2279641, +92-51-9090000

IDB, ITC agree to work together on joint projects

Jeddah (IINA) � Jeddah-based Islamic Development Bank (IDB) and the International Trade Center (ITC) have agreed to work together to implement joint projects and strengthen the competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in member countries.

This was announced during ITC Executive Director Arancha Gonzalez’s recent visit to Jeddah to meet IDB President Bandar Hajjar, the IDB said on its website.

No institution can address development challenges by itself alone. Cooperation is very important. IDB is interested in promoting cooperation with other developmental institutions, Hajar said. Our approach is to transform from a development bank to a developer institution. Financing alone will not solve development challenges. We have to support the citizens of our member countries and teach them how to conduct business.

Two agreements were signed. The first, signed by Hajar and Gonzalez, includes initiating joint projects as well as implementing trade-related technical assistance.

The second agreement, signed by Hani Sonbol, CEO of the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC), and Gonzalez, is an amendment of a partnership accord for the implementation of two new development projects in Djibouti and Algeria under the Aid for Trade Initiative for Arab States (ATIAS) program. The establishment of a Djibouti handicrafts export village will assist the government to promote local handicrafts and generate a new strategic focus for tourism, Sonbol said.

This project will lead to the diversification of the income sources and consolidate the craft sector by providing appropriate methodological tools and, finally, support craftsmen and women (to) develop their activity on sustainable success, he said. He said the National Trade Strategy (NTS) to support an economic diversification project in Algeria focuses on providing technical assistance and capacity-building to key stakeholders and institutions in Algeria to design and lead in the implementation of NTS. Gonzalez said that she visited IDB to take the collaboration to the next level, adding that the partnership between development institutions should help in fostering economic development for social impact.

She said the ITC has expertise in providing market intelligence, fostering a favorable policy and business environment, and working directly with SMEs to develop value chains. We can work together to synergize our projects and craft new ones, she said.

Source: International Islamic News Agency

Innovative Study from Pakistan around Gender-Based Violence wins World Bank Group, SVRI Funding

Islamabad, April 19, 2017 (PPI-OT): The World Bank Group and Sexual Violence Research Initiative (SVRI) on Tuesday awarded funds to a Pakistani team from The Urban Institute and Information Technology University Data Science to investigate the environm…