APBF welcomes European Union’s over Rs.11b support to assist provincial govt



LAHORE, DEC 27 – The All Pakistan Business Forum (APBF) has welcomed the European Union’s support of over Rs.11 billion (EUR 58 million) to assist the government of Balochistan in its efforts to address water scarcity and improve access and quality of primary and middle-level education in the province.

Appreciating the ambassador of the European Union to Pakistan Androulla Kaminara, APBF President Syed Maaz Mahmood said these new programs are the result of a sustained collaboration between the European Union and the Pakistan government to tackle the substantial development challenges and unleash its potential. He said that Balochistan is one of the regions of Pakistan at greater risk from climate change, which threatens livelihoods. Also considering the socioeconomic impact of Covid-19, it is crucial to invest in low water agriculture to reduce poverty and malnutrition, he added.

He hailed the EU and Pakistan’s long-term partnership and appreciated the EU’s support in rural development, Education and good governance under the Multiannual Indicative Program.

APBF President observed that the five-year 40 million euros program on water governance, being implemented from 2021, will contribute to the transition in the arid regions of Balochistan towards sustainable, low water intensive agricultural and livestock farming systems.

This will not only contribute to improved productivity by making better use of scarce water resources, but also help improve groundwater recharge in the medium to long-term, he added.

APBF President observed that earlier relief packages of $1.4 billion by the IMF and $1 billion by the World Bank in May 2020 has substantial impact and provided much needed fiscal space to Pakistan, expressing the hope that I would be used for the wellbeing and welfare of the public, especially the poor and disadvantaged segments of society.

Appreciating the debt relief measures taken by the EU, G20 countries and the World Bank for the developing countries including Pakistan, he urged the government to pass on this relief to the small industries, which are struggling for the survival.

“APBF welcomes the European Union and international financial institutions, especially the World Bank to respond positively to the dilemma confronting Pakistan in the face of the pandemic,” he said.

While noting that the second phase of Covid-19 pandemic has posed unprecedented health and economic challenges, he underlined that a global pandemic cannot be contained without strong, coordinated and well-crafted global response.

Syed Maaz Mahmood further said that it is also step forward to give impetus to government’s relief-oriented programs, especially for the SMEs. He said that the World Bank also approved a $200 million package in May this year to help Pakistan take effective and timely action to respond to the pandemic by strengthening the country’s national healthcare systems and mitigating socioeconomic disruptions.

He said that the EU country’s new support will include incentives for farmers to use water more efficiently and unleash the potential of livestock by supporting sustainable rangelands management, with a special focus on the most vulnerable groups. The program will also focus on strengthening public extension services to ensure farmers receive appropriate support on water for agriculture and livestock.

The European Union will also provide EUR 18 million in support of the government of Balochistan’s efforts to strengthen the education systems in the province.

In the education sector, the EU is renewing its commitment to helping children to receive an education and be able to follow their dreams, contributing to a better future for Pakistan.