The federal government would approve $1bn allocation through the economic coordination committee (ECC) of the cabinet on Wednesday for procurement of Covid-19 vaccines, the Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiative Asad Umar said while speaking at a news conference here Tuesday.
The minister, flanked by Chairman CPEC Authority, Lt Gen (retired) Asim Saleem Bajwa, said the government had already procured $250 million worth of vaccines so far as opening of businesses and restoration of normal life after ending ongoing restrictions was directly linked to effective vaccination campaign in the country. The growth in country’s economy could not be taken to the next level without effective vaccination otherwise the virus would spread again upon ease in restrictions as had happened in Delhi where the number of patients again spiked a couple of days ago, he added.
NHA approves awarding Sialkot-Kharian Motorway project to FWO
The minister said the NEC had approved over Rs2.1tr consolidated development programme for next year which was over 36pc higher than last year’s Rs1.527tr. He said the Punjab’s annual development plan was estimated at Rs500bn for next year against Rs310bn during current year. Sindh’s ADP would stand at Rs321bn next year against Rs194bn this year while Balochistan’s development budget would go up from Rs89bn this year to Rs133bn next year. The development budget of KP would, on the other hand, decline from Rs274bn this year to Rs248bn next year.
Similarly he said that the composition of PSDP has also been changed as compared to 2016-17. He said that the Energy/Transport and communication was 56 percent of the PSDP 2016-17 which has been downward revised to 40 percent of the next year PSDP, allocations for water sector increased from 4 percent of PSDP in 2016-17 to 10 percent in 2021-22.Allocations for Social and regional equalization increased from 23 percent of the PSDP 2016-17 to 31 percent during next fiscal.
Allocation of Rs. 244 billion made for Motorways, highways, interprovincial/districts roads, airport, Railway projects. Asad Umar said that HEC allocation increased to Rs. 44 billion. He said that 105 universities to benefit from 120 projects and Scholarships Schemes of around 5 billion to benefit more than 6000 scholars/faculty.
He said that Rs 14bn has been allocated for Billion Tree Tsunami Project. Approval of 14 high-impact PPP transactions over PKR 978 bn expected in April to October 2021, the minister claimed.
National Economic Council (NEC) has said that decided to hold its frequent meetings every year for evaluation of not only the federal public sector development programme (PSDP) but also the provincial development plans (ADPs) for effective utilization of public funds.
The planning minister said that a constitutional requirement for holding biannual meetings of the NEC had not been met during the current government and perhaps for long. However, the NEC decided in its meeting to hold regular meetings in January and by end of May every year. He said the prime minister even wanted quarterly meetings of the NEC to review the national development plans which also included the provincial plans and not only the federal projects.
He further said the NEC has also made it a binding condition that projects not approved by March 31 would not be included in the PSDP after next year.
Responding to a query, Asad Umar agreed that allocations for development of merged districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had not been effective and later result in diversion of funds. He explained that these funds were being utilized through the KP government and it had been recently at meeting presided over by the Prime Minister to put in place an effective monitoring mechanism to ensure visibility of projects. He said secretary planning and chief minister KP had been assigned the responsibility to address the situation.
The minister he also wanted to dispel the impression that China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) had been stalled in recent years adding this was one priority on which all political parties had a common stance and despite political difference the CPEC was progressing well and supported by all. However, the current phase of CPEC had more to do with industrialization involving private Chinese investments unlike first phase of financing provided by the Chinese government and state owned financial institutions.
He said the next year PSDP contained Rs87bn worth of CPEC projects including Rs78bn in transport and communications alone. Of this about Rs42bn was meant for road projects of western route alignment and Rs7bn for provision of gas and electricity to Faisalabad, Rashakai, Dhabeji and Bostan Special Economic Zones. Chairman CPEC authority, Asim Bajwa said regarding the allocations for the corridor project that CPEC master plan 2030 is integrated with the national master plan. He said that the entire nation has expectations from CPEC. He said that as per the vision the prime minister the focus is on the development of less developed and deprived areas. Chairman CPEC authority said that the development of western route along with other roads connecting with Gawadar in progress. He said work on Hakla D.I.Khan, which is also part of western alignment, is in full swing and will be completed within next three to four months.
Asim Bajwa also expressed the hope that Industrial Framework agreement with China is likely to be signed in the next JCC. He said that CPEC will bring revolution in agriculture sector of Pakistan.
‘Sialkot-Kharian Motorway project’
Meanwhile, in a related development, the executive board of National Highways Authority (NHA) allowed to start process of awarding Sialkot-Kharian Motorway project to a joint venture of M/S FWO and SMC.
A meeting headed by Chairman NHA Khurram Agha was held at the NHA headquarters here yesterday.
As per the decision, the successful bidder FWO-SMC will be given a letter of intent by NHA. However, the concession agreement would be signed after a detailed negotiations and deliberations.
NHA had received three bids from construction firms to build Sialkot-Kharian Motorway on Public Private Partnership mode.
The bids have been submitted by a joint venture of Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) and SMC Private Limited and a joint venture of Matracon Pakistan Private Limited and Techno Private Limited while the Zahir Khan and Brothers (ZKB) Private Limited has also submitted its proposal.
According to a document available with this scribe, all three contestants were declared technically suitable for the project.
In financial evaluation, the joint venture of FWO and SMC was declared successful as it got maximum marks.
The FWO would construct this Motorway at the cost of Rs.27.32 billion while it would get Rs.1 billion subsidy annually from government for first eight years as Viability Gap Funding (VGF).
Sources informed that Matracon Pakistan Private Limited and Techno Private Limited approached the Grievances Committee and presented their stance upon rejection of their financial bid.
It is possible that if they got negative decision from the grievance committee then they may go to the court that would delay the execution of the project.
Total length of project will be 69km including 60km main motorway, 9km link expressway.
The said motorway will start from Sambrial Interchange, an end point of Lahore-Sialkot Motorway, and terminate at Kharian on N-5 (GT Road).
The Sialkot-Kharian Motorway traverses major populated areas of Gujrat i.e. Jalalpur Jattan, Peru Shah, Daulat Nagar, Gulyana and terminates near Kotli Bajar where it will be connected via link highway to G.T Road with grade separated interchange