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World Bank approves $150 mn loan to Punjab for better finances

The program will support Punjab's efforts to strengthen the institutional capabilities of various government departments, manage fiscal risks.

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Chandigarh: The World Bank has approved a loan of $150 million (nearly Rs 1,200 crore) to Punjab to help the state better manage its financial resources and improve access to public services.

“The ‘Punjab: Building Fiscal and Institutional Resilience Program’ will support the state’s efforts to strengthen the institutional capabilities of various government departments, manage fiscal risks and make informed policy choices to support sustainable growth”, the World Bank said in a statement.

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“Punjab’s growth has been below potential. A combination of fiscal challenges and institutional capacity constraints means that scarce resources are spread thin across development priorities,” the statement added.

Auguste Tano Kouame, the World Bank’s Country Director in India, said: “The World Bank is pleased to be a partner of the state of Punjab in the state’s effort to deliver timely, cost-effective and good-quality public services, which is critical for inclusive development.”

“This new project will support the implementation of the state’s new data policy, which aims to bring together various social protection initiatives and reduce potential leakages while delivering essential services,” Kouame added.

The project will pilot two initiatives, the first to introduce a performance-based grants system for incentivising municipal corporations to improve service delivery.

The second initiative includes demonstrating 24×7 water supply in select areas in Amritsar and Ludhiana. It will improve water delivery systems and reduce water leakages. The success of these pilots is expected to offer a significant potential for the state-wide scale-up of improved service delivery.

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On September 10, Punjab chief secretary Vijay Kumar Janjua had met a World Bank delegation to complete the work of Punjab Municipal Services Impact Project, and said the objective of the project is to improve water supply in the above two cities.

The $300 million project is jointly funded by the World Bank, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the Punjab government.

The $ 150 million loans have a maturity of 15 years including a grace period of six months, the statement added.

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