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World Bank Marks Punjab Project Progress As “Moderately Unsatisfactory”

Implementing the social safety, education, and health components of the $200 million Punjab Human Capital Investment Project (PHCIP) of the World Bank has made very modest progress.

The Bank has given the overall implementation progress and progress towards PDO a somewhat unsatisfactory assessment, while giving the overall project risk a considerable rating.

According to bank papers, the project’s development goal was to improve the uptake of high-quality healthcare services as well as initiatives for social and economic inclusion among disadvantaged households in a few Punjabi areas.

Costing $115 million, $65 million, and $20 million respectively, the project’s component costs for the quality and usage of health services, economic and social inclusion, and efficiency and sustainability of the delivery system for social protection services.

The Project’s implementation of the social protection, education, and health components made only modest progress. The improvement of healthcare facilities, the remodelling of ECE classrooms, the registration of beneficiaries for the Health CCT and Economic Inclusion (EI) component, and the distribution of cash and assets to the registered beneficiaries are among the important operations now underway.

Due to sluggish procurement, little social mobilisation, and difficulties making timely payments to the recipients, overall disbursement and spending remain low.

Actions to expedite include completion of key procurements by March 15, 2023; improvement in the cash disbursements mechanism; and by the introduction of a predictable and enhanced monthly payment have been agreed with the Government of Punjab, documents noted.

The sponsoring agency of PHCIP is the government of Punjab through the World Bank -International Development Agency and in-kind counterpart funding. The signing, as well as the effective date of the project, is 18th May 2020, whereas the closing date of the loan agreement is 30th June 2025. The total cost of the approved project is $330 million where $200 million will be provided by World Bank and $130 million from counterpart funding.

The Punjab Human Capital Investment Project (PHCIP) is extended across 11 districts in Punjab, including Lodhran, Layyah, Khushab, DG Khan, Rahimyar Khan, Mianwali, Bahawalnagar, and Muzaffargarh. The Punjab Social Protection Authority (PSPA), the Primary and Secondary Health Department (PSHD), and the Punjab School Education Department are the projects’ implementing partners (SED). The project’s gestation time is between 2021 and 2025, and Punjab Social Protection Authority is the project’s principal agency (PSPA).

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