Despite failures, World Bank offers another loan to Pakistan

February 24, 2013 - 4:26:48 am


ISLAMABAD: A team of World Bank ‘consultants’ has arrived in Pakistan to convince decision makers to avail a $300m loan for a second phase of tax reforms.

The group was also involved in the first phase of the same project, which the World Bank itself admitted was a ‘failed’ one. After the abortive $149m Tax Administration Reforms Project, known as TARP-I, the World Bank has sent more or less the same team to devise a roadmap for TARP-II.

Sources say the project objectives will be more or less the same: enhancing tax revenues and introducing reforms in the tax machinery.

Michel Zarnowiecki, an expert in customs affairs, and William Mayville, an adviser on human resources training, are again in town to tell how Pakistan can upgrade customs and border management in Pakistan and how it can strengthen its human resources base.

These two areas formed major components of the failed TARP-I initiative, which continued for almost seven years without achieving anything significant.

Due to its disappointing outcomes, the World Bank, in diplomatic language, had admitted that the programme was ‘moderately unsatisfactory’, and the borrower’s performance was ‘unsatisfactory’.

Against the initial promise of $149m, the World Bank’s actual disbursement was reduced to only $47.6m. Despite coming away empty-handed, the country is nonetheless paying a 3.5 percent mark-up on the borrowed amount.