ISLAMABAD, Nov 18 (APP):The Asian Development Bank (ADB) Vice President, Shixin Chen reaffirmed ADB’s support for Pakistan’s development efforts and coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic response during a series of virtual meetings with senior Pakistan government officials.

According to an ADB press statement, in a series of meetings from 27 October to 17 November, Chen met with Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and ADB Governor Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar, Pakistan’s Minister for Planning, Development & Special Initiatives Asad Umar, Federal Minister for Energy Omar Ayub, Governor of the State Bank of Pakistan Reza Baqir, and Special Assistant of Pakistan’s Prime Minister and Federal Minister for Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety Protection Sania Nishtar, among other senior officials and development partners.

“ADB and Pakistan have a long-standing development partnership having worked together to confront various challenges and emergencies,” said Chen.

“Our swift and robust response to Pakistan in combating the COVID-19 pandemic has further strengthened this partnership. We will continue to work closely with the government, development partners, and the private sector to assist Pakistan, including through our forthcoming five-year country partnership strategy. This will support the post-COVID-19 economic recovery, help to resume and strengthen reform programs, and implement the country’s development agenda, he added.”

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Chen discussed ADB’s project portfolio performance, support for COVID-19 response, and development priorities with Shaikh, Bakhtiar, and Umar.

They underscored the importance of measures being taken by the government to improve the readiness of processing and implementation of development projects and highlighted the value of ADB’s support for policy reforms and regional cooperation, the statement added.

Chen discussed energy sector reforms with Mr. Ayub, while Ms. Nishtar highlighted ADB’s swift assistance through the flagship Ehsaas program. Chen also discussed central bank’s stabilization measures, ADB’s ongoing financial sector programs, and strategies to stimulate economic recovery with Baqir.

Chen also held consultations with key development partners including World Bank Country Director for Pakistan, Resident Representative of the International Monetary Fund, Head of the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office in Pakistan, Mission Director to Pakistan of USAID Pakistan, and representatives of the US Embassy to Pakistan.

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As part of the series of meetings, Chen also participated in a micro, small, and medium-sized enterprise-themed roundtable and engaged with the regulator, bankers, and entrepreneurs to discuss strengthening business and job opportunities for rapid post-COVID-19 recovery.

ADB has provided significant support to Pakistan’s COVID-19 response. This includes a $500 million loan approved in June to help the government deliver social protection programs to the poor and vulnerable, expand health sector capabilities, and deliver a pro-poor fiscal stimulus to boost growth and create jobs.

In May, ADB approved a $300 million emergency assistance loan to strengthen Pakistan’s public health response to the pandemic and help meet the basic needs of vulnerable and poor segments of society.