ADB’s IED Rates Pakistan’s COVID-19 Active Response Program as Highly Successful

The Independent Evaluation Department (IED) of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has rated ‘Pakistan: COVID-19 Active Response and Expenditure Support Program’ of worth $500 million highly successful on the basis that it was highly relevant, effective, and highly efficient.

The report noted that ADB contributed the $500 million COVID-19 Active Response and Expenditure Support Program (CARES), approved under the COVID-19 Pandemic Response Option (CPRO). This was part of an integrated ADB package of support, with the program providing budget support to help finance countercyclical development expenditures.

The program design and monitoring framework (DMF) reflected areas of government spending that were a priority for ADB. The priorities included social protection for the poor and vulnerable, an expanded health sector response to the pandemic, and a pro-poor fiscal stimulus package to ensure recovery in growth and employment.

The IED in its validation report stated that it was timely, designed appropriately for achieving its intended outcome, and coherent and closely coordinated with other development partners. It was effective because the financing supported Pakistan to implement a fiscal stimulus package that was judiciously executed, aligned with the program objectives, and substantially reached intended beneficiaries. It was highly efficient because ADB rapidly delivered the program, which served as an efficient resource mobilization tool.

This validation assesses the program highly relevant, effective, and highly efficient. It was timely, met all access criteria, and was designed to provide emergency budgetary support to fill gaps in development financing. The program was effective as it assisted Pakistan to undertake fiscal stimulus early in a crisis while adding value beyond financing. It partially met gender equality targets. The program was highly efficient with loan processing being much faster than the 2020 CPRO average. ADB helped facilitate a collaborative financing approach among development partners, leading to a highly efficient financing outcome. This validation assesses the program highly successful.

No rating is assigned for sustainability. The objective of CPRO was to help developing member country (DMCs) finance urgent actions to address the effects of the pandemic in its initial stages. Neither the urgent actions nor their benefits were necessarily designed or expected to be sustained beyond the crisis. Nonetheless, it is relevant to consider the likelihood that the government was able to sustain relevant parts of its expenditure program over the timeframe estimated to be necessary, and any outputs and outcome expressly intended to be sustained beyond the crisis. The PCR pointed to the government’s commitment to continue to support affected segments of society to mitigate COVID-19’s impact, as evidenced by substantial increases in 2021 of allocations to social safety net programs.

The PCR rated development impact satisfactory. The government’s response helped mitigate some of the worst effects of the pandemic on efforts to achieve Sustainable Development Goal targets. The response also sustained vital social protection programs and maintained and even contributed toward generating more employment. This validation assesses that ADB support helped the government manage the crisis and recover quickly.

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