Standing committee wants to run a tight ship

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The National Assembly Standing Committee on Ports and Shipping, Friday, urged the government to provide funds for developing Gwadar Port linkages with rest of the country on priority basis. The NA body also endorsed all the demands of Chief Minister Balochistan Nawab Aslam Raisani who sought committee’s support for getting releases of funds from Finance Division on project specific basis. Standing committee constituted a sub-committee to ensure timely release of funds for Gwadar specific projects as well as to monitor resumption of construction work on highways linking Gwadar to rest of the country. Panel of legislators also showed displeasure of absence of Chairman National Highway Authority (NHA) from meeting and Chairman Committee, supported by all members, threatened to resign from his office in case NHA Chairman would not attend the next committee meeting. NA body also summoned Finance Minister, Minister for Railways, Chairman Railways and Deputy Chairman Planning Commission along with Chairman NHA to next meeting scheduled to be held on May 28 to devise strategy for smooth and uninterrupted provision of funds for making Gwadar Port functional. Members also supported the idea for holding a meeting with Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani to urge him to cancel concession signed with Port of Singapore Authority (PSA) and appointing Chief Minister Balochistan as Chairman Gwadar Port Authority (PGA). Nawab Aslam Raisani and Nabeel Gabol were special invitees to the meeting. The National Assembly Standing Committee met here with Rana Mahmood ul Hassan in the chair to discus plan of action in cooperation with concerned ministries for development of Gwadar Port on priority basis as well as availability of funds for Gwadar Port for the next fiscal year. Chief Minister Balochistan while contradicting brief presented by NHA on closed construction work on highways linking Gwadar to other areas, said that it was against the ground realities as there was no security issue for the contractors and labourers in Balochistan. “Start construction work, I will provide required security” he remarked adding that NHA had tried to portray horrifying state of law and order in the province which was sheer contrast of the prevailing conditions. “Real issue with NHA is availability of funds for said project and NHA is trying to hide its failure of getting funds released from Finance Division behind law and order” he added. NHA in its briefing stated that construction work of highways in Balochistan was closed down due to worst state of law and order and security situation as contractors were not ready to continue with work, however, NHA Member Construction Aurangzeb said that notice had been served to Rakhshani Builders that contract would be cancelled in case it would not resume construction work on said project. Committee also invited all MNAs from Balochistan to its next meeting for making proceedings of the House as meaningful and effective and result oriented recommendations. Members also voiced against agreement signed with PSA for the running Gwadar Port and urged the government to cancel as early as possible as this agreement was the lone hurdle in making Port functional.