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Monday, 9 May 2011

Funds log-jammed with Pakistan findings on Bin Laden

World Bank team due in Pakistan on Friday

The World Bank, International Monetary Fund and the Asian Development Bank had postponed their visits, all citing security risks caused by Bin Laden’s killings. – File Photo 

WASHINGTON: The World Bank is sending a delegation to 
Islamabad on Friday, ending a temporary travel ban on Pakistan 
imposed after Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden’s killing in a 
US raid last week.

International Monetary Fund and the Asian Development Bank also are expected to send their delegations soon, diplomatic sources told Dawn.
An IMF delegation was scheduled to arrive in Pakistan in the first week of May to review economic and policy developments, and discuss the budget for the fiscal 2011-12.
The World Bank and the Asian Development Bank also had postponed similar visits; all citing security risks caused by Bin Laden’s killings.
But the UNDP, which determines security risks for international organisations, has since reduced its security alert level for Pakistan, enabling the World Bank, IMF and ADB to reschedule their visits.
Last year, the IMF withheld $3.5 billion from an $11.3 billion loan package for Pakistan in a bid to persuade Pakistani authorities to cut their budget deficit.
Pakistan hoped that the talks would lead to a possible deal on the disbursement of the much needed loan. The World Bank, however, has assured Pakistan that the delay would not affect loan disbursements for development and social projects. Funding for rebuilding of areas devastated by massive flooding last year would also continue, the bank said.
The IMF – a major donor to Pakistan – worries that unless the Pakistani government boosts tax revenue, its economy may unravel through escalating inflation. Now, the government finances much of its budget by borrowing from the central bank – essentially printing money.
Bin Laden’s discovery in a compound in Abbottabad has further increased Pakistan’s economic concerns. US lawmakers have urged the Obama administration to reconsider billions of dollars of US military and economic assistance to Pakistan over Osama bin Laden’s presence in a garrison town close to Islamabad.
But Finance Minister Hafeez Sheikh told reporters in Islamabad on Saturday that the United States would not suspend its assistance to Pakistan over the dispute.
“There is no threat to the assistance because economic relations with the US are at government to government level,” he said.