ADB’s IED Rates Technical Assistance for Pakistan’s Economic Corridor Development as Successful

The Independent Evaluation Department (IED) of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has rated technical assistance for “Pakistan: Supporting Economic Corridor Development through Strategic Planning Frameworks” as successful and relevant.

The IED in its validation report stated that the technical assistance (TA) project was aimed to provide knowledge support to Pakistan government in preparing its national plan with focus on promoting efficient growth and connectivity, particularly through economic corridor development (ECD).

The TA report noted that the growth and trade performance of the government of Pakistan had stalled and was largely driven by consumption with low levels of investment due to perceived security issues, energy shortages, and a poor business regulatory environment.

In 2016, ADB approved a small-scale TA to provide basis for initial assessment of viable economic corridors in Pakistan. Economic corridor development was reflected in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, as well as in the corridor projects under the Central Asian Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC).

At the request of the government of Pakistan, the subject TA was approved as a follow-on TA to (i) further assess the potential of ECD to boost industrial productivity, exports, and job creation and (ii) thereby contribute to sustained, increased, and equitable economic growth.

The development of an ECD policy and operational framework were intended to support Pakistan’s participation in global value chains and enhance its trade and economic competitiveness, supported by feasibility studies for ECD identification, design, and implementation, and an ECD knowledge hub to support capacity and decision making.

The overall logic of the results chain was clearly shown such that the intended outputs to be adopted or established at completion could directly contribute toward better integrated ECD planning. However, the intended outcome of increased investments was ambitious for a policy-relevant TA and would entail a wider and longer-term ADB partnerships and operations in Pakistan and in the region. The TA extension was approved in June 2020.

The main justification for extending the TA for another year was the setback in establishing an ECD hub in view of the need to wait for the delivery of three outputs. This validation views that there could have been a more thorough review of the feasibility of establishing an ECD hub at the time when governments worldwide were addressing the pandemic, and further collaboration and integration in this area became the least priority. Extending the TA mainly to give time to deliver Output 1, Output 2, and Output 4, as well as the possible rescoping of Output 3 (ECD hub establishment) given the recent global health crisis, would have been a more appropriate justification.

The TCR rated the development of frameworks (Output 1 and Output 4) as achieved, while the development of analytical tools (Output 2) was partly achieved, and the establishment of ECD hub (Output 3) was not achieved.

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