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May 15, 2015

CPEC, energy projects to get top priority: Ahsan


May 15, 2015

ISLAMABAD: Declaring China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and energy projects as top priority, federal minister for planning Ahsan Iqbal said that the government would have to secure allocation of Rs250 billion in the coming budget to avoid delays on CPEC and delivering on commitment for overcoming energy outages till 2017-18.
“We have decided to scrap over 100 minor but unimportant projects from the PSDP list that could not be completed in the last five years. The money thus saved in the range of Rs15-20 billion will be diverted towards high priority area like CPEC and energy projects,” the minister said while briefing the media here on Thursday evening about Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) for next financial year and CPEC.
The briefing came soon a meeting chaired by PM Nawaz Sharif on PSDP allocation for next the fiscal year. The minister said that the government would ensure special security arrangements for CPEC projects by dedicating 10,000 special work force but he refused to share any further details on this subject. He said that the CPEC projects related to energy would be executed in the IPPs mode where the government would strike power purchase agreement on the produced energy.
He said that the government would include LNG and Jamshoro coal power project into PSDP and then these projects would be sold out to the private sector in order to avoid missing out commitment of overcoming energy outages by fiscal year 2017-18.
He said that so far the government has indicated development outlay of Rs580 billion for the next budget but efforts are under way to maximise it to Rs600 billion.
Highlighting certain important projects, the minister said that some critical projects would be protected at all cost including Lowari Tunnel, Kachi Kanal, construction of NA-85 road having immense importance for connectivity under CPEC, Jamshoro coal power projects, LNG projects, Diamer Basha dam, Dasu hydropower project and Neelum-Jhelum

power project in the coming financial year.
The minister said that the Orange Line Project for Punjab was not part of CPEC. For Punjab’s Orange Line or Metro bus projects, he said, the federal government did not provide any penny to Punjab except for the portion of Islamabad in case of Metro project for the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad. But he added that the federal government would be providing Rs16 billion for Green Metro Line project of Sindh. The KPK government, he said, sought federal government’s assistance in getting ADB’s help for its metro project, which the Centre would be ready to extend.
To another query regarding over-viewing of PSDP projects by Hamza or Capt Safdar committees, the minister said that there was no truth in it as they were looking after schemes forwarded by Parliamentarians. He disclosed that the Parliamentarians forwarded development schemes worth Rs400 billion to be made part of PSDP, which could not be done keeping in view resource constraints so these committees would sort out deliverable projects.
He said that the government would protect federally funded development schemes meant for provinces in the coming budget. Earlier, the Planning Commission had forwarded a proposal to PM to abolish this programme in order to create saving of Rs33 billion that can be diverted towards high priority areas.
The minister said that the federal government released over 74 percent of funds under PSDP in the outgoing fiscal year and spending should cross Rs500 billion against allocated amount of Rs525 billion. He said that political uncertainty from August to December in the wake of sit-ins by the PTI and ban on recruitments caused delay in development spending in the first half but the utilisation picked up pace in the second half of the outgoing fiscal year.
Keeping in view scientific approach to CPEC he said Gawadar-Sohrab link road of 650 km would be completed in the first phase and FWO is working on this link road and so far it has caused them 15 lives because certain forces cannot reconcile to the idea of development in Balochistan. He said Pakistan has decided to establish linkages between Gawadar to Kashgar through three different routes and work on all routes would start simultaneously.
First, he said, the eastern route would become operational under CPEC. He said that the N-30 road from Khuzdar to Basima having 110 km length would be completed at the cost of Rs3.713 billion. From Khuzdar to Shahdadkot, 151 km road would be completed within three years.
He said that under CPEC four working groups have been set up - planning joint working group, energy group, Gawadar working group and transport, infrastructure working group. The fifth working group for establishing industrial parks/economic zones was not yet established.
He said that the federal government would consult all provinces before finalising sites for economic zones under the CPEC projects. “Except Gawadar’s economic zone, no other zone has so far been finalised,” he added.

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