The government is considering fixing the development budget outlay of Rs 1 trillion for the next fiscal year, out of which an allocation of Rs 350 billion will be required for the development projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
A top official source said the development outlay will be finalised as soon as the policy talks are over with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) team in Dubai. He said the IMF had advised to fix the development budget outlay for the next fiscal year at close to Rs 700 billion.
However, he said it was rejected by the Planning Commission, which observed that an allocation of Rs 350 billion was required for implementing the projects under the CPEC alone. The source said that the finance minister will try to convince the IMF authorities on the development spending during the ongoing talks.
The priority for development spending for the next financial will remain on energy, infrastructure and human resource development through enhanced funding for higher education. The government last year raised the allocation for higher education from Rs 48 billion to Rs 73 billion. The government is aiming to set up at least one university in every district before the completion of its tenure in 2018.
The source said that the major energy projects under CPEC have been kept in the independent power producer mode. The government will only finance the three main LNG based power projects under implementation, which are being set up in the load centers of Punjab.
The energy projects on priority the under next public sector development programme will include Chasma three and four and Neelum–Jhelum hydropower projects which the government wants to complete before the end of 2017.
The main thrust of the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) infrastructure projects will be the remaining sections of the Karachi-Lahore motorway and the western corridor of CPEC. The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has already been assured that handsome amounts will be provided for the timely completion of the Hassan Abdal-Kalabagh-DIKhan-Zhob expressway linking Gwadar.
The source said that the railway is another priority for the next financial year. Allocations are likely to be made for upgrading the railway track and locomotives. The starting of freight train service between Karachi and Lahore has yielded positive results as rates of goods forwarded through trunks have declined by half from over Rs 200,000 to Rs 100,000.
The government is aiming to improve the railway track to start the freight service and also help movement of imported coal to the coal based power plants being set up in Punjab. The resolution of energy crisis will pave the way for Chinese investment in setting up special economic zones and industries along CPEC routes.