The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved $304 million in financing for Punjab Resource Improvement and Digital Effectiveness Program (PRIDE) on Friday.
The program supports efficiencies in public resource management that generate savings and create fiscal space for growth-generating investments in the Punjab province.
“The PRIDE program is integral to the World Bank’s whole-of-country approach in helping Pakistan strengthen public financial management systems at the federal and provincial levels,” said Najy Benhassine, World Bank Country Director for Pakistan in a statement issued by the Bank.
“Punjab is the largest province, accounting for 55 percent of the population and about 60 percent of the economy, so improving quality and access to public services is key to Pakistan’s development.”
The PRIDE Program will support the government of Punjab in strengthening fiscal risk management and budget formulation to ensure reliable resource allocation for public services.
The program will improve revenue collection by increasing registration of businesses and real estate, and simplifying tax administration processes such as registration, filing, payment, refunds and appeals.
In the wake of COVID-19 pandemic, the program also focuses on deploying technology-based solutions to enhance public service delivery and increase access to online services for firms and individuals. This will support Punjab in digitizing key government services to streamline processes and increase efficiencies in the public service delivery.
“With prolonged restrictions on face-to-face services due to COVID-19, the pride program will help the provincial government expand its existing citizen feedback model and accelerate the use of technology for revenue mobilization and public procurement,” said Akmal Minallah, Task Team Leader for the program.
“The program also puts in place monitoring and transparency mechanisms at the provincial and local levels that increase government accountability.”
Pride supports the Punjab Growth Strategy and the Punjab Public Financial Management Reforms Strategy, which both aim at developing a robust public financial management system.
The program also aligns with the Responsive Investment for Social Protection and Economic Stimulus that the government of Punjab designed to stimulate recovery from the pandemic and increase resilience to future shocks.
Together with PRIDE, these initiatives layout a road map for Punjab to accelerate digitization of government services and ensure business continuity during emergencies.