World Bank approves $223 mln package to modernize Karachi, help access financial services


WASHINGTON, June 16 (APP): The World Bank has approved a
package of $223 million to help millions of poor, especially
women, have access to financial services, and improve living
conditions in parts of Karachi.
The package includes $137 million the Financial
Inclusion and Infrastructure Project to help provide financial
access to poor and $86 million, and $86 million for
Karachi Neighborhood Improvement Project that will benefit about
one million Karachites living in the areas of Saddar, Korangi and
Malir, a World Bank press release said.
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.
“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 Infrastructure Project will help
those people who do not have bank accounts and cannot get loans.
It will also upgrade Pakistan’s payment systems to ensure
affordable and faster payment services.
“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,” he said. The project
aims to improve access to financial and banking sectors
for throughout Pakistan by 2020.
The Karachi Neighborhood Improvement Project 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.