Mr Najy Benhassine
Country Director, World Bank Group, Pakistan
Mr Najy Benhassine joined in August 2020 as Country Director for Pakistan for the South Asia region at the World Bank Group. Before this, he was the Equitable Growth, Finance and Institutions (EFI) Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa region. He has also worked in Morocco between 2007 and 2011, where he was in charge of the private sector development portfolio of the Maghreb for the World Bank. He holds a PhD in Economics from MIT.
The Country Partnership Framework (CPF) determines the areas the World Bank focuses on in the country, for the period 2022-2026. These areas are usually determined after meetings with government officials (both provincial and federal), civil society and other stakeholders.
In 2019, the World Bank did a comprehensive report on Pakistan called “Pakistan@100”, an initiative that identified what Pakistan needed to do to become a middle-income country by the time it turned 100 years old in 2047. These findings are expected to influence the World Bank’s priorities under the country partnership framework.
In 2019, GVS Managing Editor Najma Minhas interviewed Patchumuthu Illango, the then World Bank Pakistan country director who spoke at length on the findings of the Pakistan@100 initiative; women’s economic empowerment and environmental sustainability were amongst the key factors to a more prosperous Pakistan.
Some of the proposed areas for the World Bank focus stated by Najy Benhassine can be termed as the ‘5Gs’; specifically, girls and boys’ education, growing health, green and clean Pakistan, inclusive growth, and improved governance. In the FY2015-2020, under the Country Partnership Strategy for Pakistan, the World Bank identified four priority areas of engagement: energy, private sector development, inclusion, and service delivery.
Under the current proposals, economic growth for the country includes plans to have more efficient usage of resources through better techniques and technology. To promote small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) led economic growth, loan and grants programs would be supported for entrepreneurship and self-employment.
The World Bank would also encourage several programs where skill sets will be enhanced, and training and institutional strengthening will be done through training development authorities in different provinces. Similarly, gender economic empowerment would be encouraged through inclusion as a critical component in all programs. Pakistan has been a member of the World Bank since 1950.
Since then, the World Bank has provided $40 billion in assistance. The World Bank portfolio in Pakistan currently has around 56 projects worth around $11 billion and is working on areas from strengthening institutions, particularly in fiscal management and human development; to initiatives in children’s nutrition, education and skills, irrigated agriculture, tourism, disaster risk management, urban development; clean energy, and social and financial inclusion.