Govt approves 9 new schemes worth Rs 43b

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Even though the cash-strapped government is struggling to make its tax targets, it approved nine new schemes on Monday worth at least Rs42.92 billion. The projects were approved by Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) –the highest project approval authority, headed by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar. The projects are in the energy, education, health, transport, communications, irrigation and water sectors.
The ECNEC approved two projects for Punjab having estimated value of Rs24.84 billion, three projects for Balochistan worth Rs8.7 billion, one project for Sindh of Rs2.09 billion and two projects for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa valuing Rs4.4 billion. A national scholarship programme amounting to Rs2.9 billion was also approved. The portfolio of development projects has already crossed the mark of 1300 schemes and many of them remain underfunded. For the current financial year 2013-14, the PML-N government had approved Rs540 billion development budget and vowed not to place a cut on it. However, the IMF has shown current’s year budget at Rs420 billion, showing a reduction of 22.3%. The ECNEC was informed that Punjab government has started work on two hydel power projects while work on a project of 84MW was inaugurated recently by the private sector. The meeting was also told that government of Punjab will soon start work on the 125MW Taunasa Hydel Project as well.
Agricultural schemes approved include the Punjab Irrigation System Improvement Project (PISIP) PK-P59 which will cover three irrigation zones including Bahawalpur, DG Khan and Faisalabad. The ECNEC also approved the Renewable Energy Development Sector Investment programme for Gujranwala, Pakpattan, Sheikhupura, Sialkot and Lahore districts of Punjab for construction of seven renewable energy projects. In Sindh, the ECNEC approved upgradation of girls primary schools in twelve districts. ECNEC directed that Sindh should commit Rs100 million as its share so that work on these project could be completed in the stipulated period.
As the ECNEC approved a HEC Rs2.9 billion HEC scholarship programme, it proposed that the programme should be renamed to reflect the government’s contribution. The ECNEC also approved in principle the Rs3 billion Gomal Zam Dam Command Area Development and On-Farm Water Management for High Value and High Efficiency Agriculture Project. ECNEC directed the Planning and Development Division to rationalise the cost, the period and area of cultivation and report back to the ECNEC in its next meeting. The meeting was told that 73% of the cost of this project will be borne by USAID. Flyover construction at Sariab Phatak in Quetta to connect Zarghoon Road with Sariab Road worth Rs1.58 billion was also approved by the ECNEC. As par to the 100 Delay Action Dams in the Balochistan Package-I, the committee approved construction of 20 delay action dams to increase level of groundwater table. It also approved construction of a further 26 delay action dams to increase groundwater table through artificial recharge as part of the 100 Delay Action Dams in the Balochistan Package-II. This will bring 24,000 acres of fertile cultivable land under cultivation and protect down stream area from flashy floods.
The full list of projects approved by ECNEC in its meeting on Monday include the Renewable Energy Development Sector Investment Programme (REDSIP) worth Rs13.29 billion, upgrading Primary Girls Schools into Elementary Schools in Rural Areas of Sindh worth Rs2.08 billion, USAID Merit and Needs Based Scholarship Program (MNBSP) phase-II worth Rs2.9 billion, Social Health Protection Initiative for Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa worth Rs1.40 billion, construction of flyover at Sariab Phatak, Quetta worth Rs1.58 billion, Punjab Irrigation System Improvement Project (PISIP) PK-P 59 worth Rs11.53 billion, Construction of 100 Delay Action Dams in Balochistan Package-I (20 dams) worth Rs2.47 billion, Construction of 100 Delay Action Dams in Balochistan Package-II (26 dams) worth Rs4.65 billion and Gomal Zam Dam’s Command Area Development and on-farm Water Management for High Value and High Efficiency Agriculture Project (GZD-CADP) worth Rs3.00 billion.

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