ADB approves $1.4b loan for Pakistan

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ISLAMABAD: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) Friday approved a $1.4 billion loan for Pakistan for installation of smart electricity metres to monitor growing theft and facilitate the government in privatisation of power distribution companies and cutting power subsidies.
The board of directors of the Manila-based lending agency approved a multi-tranche facility of $990 million for installation of smart electricity metres and central billing systems, according to an announcement by the ADB.
The bank also approved another $400 million in budgetary support in return of the commitments to cut electricity subsidies, fast track privatisation and running the power sector on commercial basis.
Of the $1.4 billion, an amount of $400 million will be disbursed immediately in cash while the remaining amount will be released as the government makes progress in installation of smart electricity metres, the announcement read.
With the approval of two fresh loan programmes, the ADB’s lending for Pakistan’s power sector will increase to about $4 billion, deepening its interest in a sector that is marred by mismanagement, corruption and inefficiencies.
The statement further said that the $990 million multi-tranche Second Power Distribution Enhancement Investment Programme will be used for introducing an Advanced Electricity Metering Infrastructure (AMI) system for power distribution companies across the country.
“The new system will help reduce line losses, improve revenue collection and load management, and strengthen the financial viability of the sector,” it added.
The ADB also approved $400 million in budgetary support under sustainable energy sector reforms programme. The approval came on the heels of $500 million loan that the World Bank gave last week for the energy sector reforms.
The bank has diverted over $110 million project funds towards the budgetary support that it had earlier earmarked for two hydro sector projects in Gilgit Baltistan. The funds remained unutilised for many years.
The ADB said that the budgetary support will help policy measures to address extensive debts in the electricity sector, as well as further market reforms to improve the efficiency of public sector power companies and to encourage competition through more private sector participation.
The specific outputs attached with $400 million loan are managing tariffs and subsidies by implementing clear policies on tariffs and subsidies that are targeted at low-income customers, ensuring policy implementation and limiting discretionary policy decisions in tariff approval and implementation.– Agencies

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