KARACHI: A five-member team of World Bank (WB) has held separate meetings with local bodies elected members and officials of Karachi Metropolitan Corporation and six District Municipal Corporations during November 13 to 30, 2017. The meeting was aimed supporting enhancement of municipal management and capacity of KMC and DMC’s in Karachi and to finance strategic municipal investment and service delivery, officials of KMC have informed. The meeting also focused on development funding to KMC, helping strategic infrastructure investment within responsibilities of KMC such as infrastructure development, key roads and drainage rehabilitation. The proposed Karachi Integrated Urban Management Project (tentatively $200 million) would be given to KMC and DMCs. The objectives of the meeting were also on formula-based block and performance grant funding to DMC’s to invest in small scale local infrastructure and municipal systems strengthening. The design of block grants would include performance measures to incentives results. Joseph Gadek, Nazar Mahar, consultants of WB, Daniel Smit, Yoonhee Kim and Melinda Good, Operation Manager, WB Pakistan were the team members who held meetings with Waseem Akhtar, Mayor, chairmen DMCs and officials of these civic bodies. The WB mission also held meetings with Arif Ahmed Khan, Secretary Economic Affairs Division government of Pakistan, Humaira Ahmed, Additional Secretary, Economic Affairs Division, Shohil Rajput, Principal Secretaries to Chief Minister Sindh, Syed Hasan Naqvi, Finance, Shereen Mustafa, Secretary Planning, Ramzan Awan, Local Government Department, Abdul Haleem Shaikh, Excise, Taxation and Narcotic Department besides Ejiaz Ahmed Khan, Commissioner Karachi Division, Shahab Qamar Ansari, Additional Secretary, Finance and Naeem Zafer, Chief Economist, Planning and Development Department government of Sindh. This was the first technical meeting of WB on proposed ‘Karachi integrated urban management project-2018-20. The team would visit again in February 2018 for review the projects. The WB after completion its report would send it to WB Headquarter USA for approval and later a team of experts would arrive in Karachi for providing technical support to officials and elected local bodies’ representatives for enhancing their capacity building in coordination, finance management, operation and maintenance, social and environment management and project execution and supervision to support achieving performance and measures for block grants. In addition, on the request of Sindh government, the project plans to support strengthening of Urban Immovable Property Tax (UIPT) system in Sindh province would also be taken into account. The recent Bank report on UIPT in Sindh highlights unrealised revenue potentials of UIPT and in this connection WB has given Rs 2 billion out of total amount of Rs 7.2 billion for survey of Karachi properties to add to roll and computerisation of tax administration. Enhancing property tax revenue generation through implementation of ‘Quick wins’ measures, such as property survey based on modern techniques of geo-spatial mapping, modernisation of UIPT administration by introducing an ICT based system and incremental reforms in policy and legislation Principal Secretary to Chief Minister has been asked by Bank team to prepare a roadmap for UIPT improvement and present it to key stakeholders. The Bank is keen to support two objectives for UIPT system under proposed project. A strong Provincial Project Implementation Unit with technical, engineering and institutional capacity will be required to successfully implement proposed project building components and performance measures for block grants. The Bank team will evaluate options for implementation arrangements during the next mission and make a recommendation for consideration. Officials of KMC and DMCs have said that meeting has reviewed infrastructure development and project plans, assessment of viability and state of readiness of these plans, review of any recent infrastructure development activities, assessment of relevance, quality and efficiency of these activities, review of any forthcoming, planned infrastructure development activities, identification of potential infrastructure development opportunities, covering both larger-scale ‘Strategic” infrastructure (for KMC) and smaller scale, basic infrastructure for DMCs. Waseem Akhtar on separate held meetings between WB with KMC and DMCs was of the view that a vast betterment could be seen in professional capacity of officials and thereafter a change in the city face. The meeting discussed projects scope with physical infrastructure and engineering assessment of KMC and DMCs’Municipal Services, IT and Traffic Engineering Department of KMC, Culture, Sports and recreation department and parks department of KMC, institutional capacity and systems assessment of KMC and DMCs’ procurement, financial management and environmental aspects of KMC and DMCs, workshop with provincial government, LGD and local councils and officials. Published in Daily Times, December 5th 2017.