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Govt plans priority projects list to channelise funds in Balochistan

By Our Correspondent
September 03, 2021

ISLAMABAD: The government has planned to prepare a list of priority projects in Balochistan to boost funds for their timely completion under the federal public sector development programme, a statement said on Thursday.

The decision was taken at a progress review meeting on the South Balochistan Development Plan (SBDP) chaired by Asad Umar, minister for Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives.

"The minister observed that the current portfolio of Balochistan in federal PSDP has a thin spreading of funds and desired that a priority list of projects should be prepared so that fast-moving and strategic projects could be adequately funded for timely completion," the statement said.

Expressing satisfaction at the pace of the work, Umar observed that 90 percent of the projects have been approved and included in Federal PSDP 2021-22 at Rs234.315 billion, out of which Rs25.721 billion were allocated in the current fiscal year. Likewise, for various approved and ongoing PSDP projects amounting to Rs274.689 billion, allocation for current fiscal year amounts to Rs29.160 billion.

While reviewing the status of PC-I/IIs and corresponding financials, the minister observed that the current portfolio of Balochistan in federal PSDP has a thin spreading of funds and desired that a priority list of projects should be prepared so that fast-moving and strategic projects could be adequately funded for timely completion.

Secretary Planning Hameed Yaqoob Sheikh, focal person SDBP, and senior officials attended the meeting.

Umar was informed that NHA has commenced procurement for three projects as part of the construction of Hoshab-Awaran-Khuzdar Section of M-8 including, Awaran-Naal 168km at Rs32 billion, Hoshab-Awaran M-8 ,146km at Rs38 billion, and rehabilitation and up-gradation of Awaran-Jhaljao Road 54.8km at Rs6.9 billion.

He was further informed that seven road sector projects amounting Rs24.39 billion, and a similar number of water dam projects amounting Rs48.68 billion were approved and included in PSDP 2021-22, with their award process being expedited.

In order to address water shortages especially at Gwadar, funds have been approved for connecting the Shadi-Kaur dam with the Gwadar pipeline. Additionally, CDWP has accorded approval for the installation of a 1.2 MGD desalination plant at Gwadar Port through a Chinese grant. The minister directed completion of desalination plant within six-nine months.

When reviewing the progress of 15 projects to be funded through the Non-PSDP model at Rs20.376 billion, Umar observed that 78 percent of the projects have been approved, while projects amounting to approximately Rs10.188 billion were in various stages of implementation in the current fiscal.

In order to improve digital connectivity in Gwadar, Chaghi, Noukeshi, Kech; USF has awarded contracts for districts at Rs3,200 million; planned completion is by July 24, 2022.

He was further informed that the contract for high-speed broadband connectivity along M-8 and national highways was likely to be awarded by Q3 2021.

Umar said increased data and telecom coverage would also increase livelihood opportunities for more than 0.5 million people of southern Balochistan.

Progress for projects to be funded under the public-private partnership model was also reviewed. Umar called the private sector the real driver of growth of countries across the globe, “even today Sialkot-Kharian motorway has been inaugurated by Prime Minister through such model”.

The minister was also informed about the LPG supply project, a draft summary of which prepared by the Petroleum Division has been circulated to the Cabinet Committee on Energy and stakeholders for comments. The house was further informed that Alternative Energy Development Board was working on off-grid electrification of southern Balochistan districts, and a consultant has been procured.