World Bank Approves $150 Million Loan For Punjab To Improve State’s Finances, Service Delivery

Punjab will get a loan from the World Bank in the amount of USD 150 million to aid it in managing its financial resources and enhancing access to public services, reported news agency ANI. The state’s efforts to improve the institutional capabilities of various government ministries, manage fiscal risks, and make well-thought as well as informed policy choices to support sustainable growth, would be supported by this loan, said the international financial institution in a statement, as reported by news aegncy ANI.

“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 further read. 

By enhancing planning, budgeting, and monitoring processes and utilising digital technology, the new initiatives will aid in the state’s development goals. They will also increase accountability in the public procurement systems by aiding in the statewide adoption of fresh legislative and policy changes.

ANI quoted World Bank’s Country Director, India, Auguste Tano Kouame as saying, “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.” He further added, “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.”

The project will test two initiatives: first, it would develop a grants system that rewards municipalities for enhancing service delivery. Second, it will show how water is provided continuously in a few locations in the cities of Amritsar and Ludhiana. Water delivery systems will be improved, and water leaks will be decreased. The expansion of enhanced service delivery across the state is anticipated to have a good chance of success if these pilot programmes are successful.

As per ANI’s report, Dhruv Sharma and Bhavna Bhatia, World Bank Task Team leaders of the project said “The project is using a ‘whole-of-government’ approach which will ensure that various departments in the Punjab state government are linked so as to enhance their efficiency in managing public resources. Performance linked inter-governmental fiscal transfers will incentivize improved management of cities and service delivery to citizens.”

The announcement further stated that the loans totaling USD 150 million have a 15-year maturity term with a 6-month grace period.