ISLAMABAD: Most of the development projects initiated by the previous government would continue in the coming Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP), along with a handful of new projects, Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal said on Tuesday.
Addressing a press conference, Iqbal said that 88% of the PSDP for 2022-23 would consist of ongoing projects and 12% new projects. He revealed that the total outlay of the development budget would be up to Rs800 billion.
“We have made a careful assessment of the PSDP,” the planning minister told the media persons after a meeting of the Central Development Working Party (CDWP). He stressed that the government would try to complete the uplift projects as early as possible.
The minister criticised the previous Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government for ignoring the development projects initiated by the former Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government. “We left Rs1,000 billion PSDP in 2017-18,” he recalled.
“This time, the Finance Ministry did not release even a single rupee in the development funds in the fourth quarter [March-June period of the current fiscal year]. This never happened in the entire history of Pakistan,” he said.
The minister revealed that the previous government even did not start work on five out of the nine industrial zones. However, he added, the present government had included infrastructure projects in the PSDP for early completion of the economic zones.
“Our hands are tied because of the previous government’s agreement with the IMF [International Monetary Fund]. Those IMF agreements were not with the PTI but with the government of Pakistan,” he said.
Ahsan Iqbal said that he wanted to convey good news to the people that a major project, which lingered for the past 30 years, had finally been approved by the CDWP and it would bring a green revolution in southern districts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P).
The CDWP has approved Rs250 billion Chashma Right Bank Canal [lift-cum-gravity], and referred with recommendation to the Executive Committee of National Economic Council (ECNEC) for further approval,” the minister announced.
“The project was lingering on for 30 years. It will help irrigate 275,000 acres of lands in the southern districts of K-P. The federal share in the total cost will be 65%, while the remaining 35% funds will be provided by the provincial government,” he said.
“This project had become a long-standing issue but the current government has taken up this project on a priority basis and included it in the PSDP. The federal government will try to complete the project as early as possible to bring revolution in the agriculture sector of K-P.”
Similarly, he continued, the CDWP also approved power project of the Rs900 billion Diamir Bhasha Dam project. The PML-N government had started this project but the PTI government delayed it due to which its cost rose from the original Rs480 billion to Rs705 billion.
Ahsan said that the government was giving special priority to Balochistan to improve the socio-economic condition of the people of that province. On the direction of the prime minister, he said the Chaman-Quetta-Karachi (N-25) dualisation project had been approved.
The minister pointed out that there was shortage of electricity in the Makran Coastal areas, adding that an agreement for getting 100MW additional electricity from Iran would be finalised soon. He directed the authorities concerned to complete the 29 kilometers transmission line on the Pakistan side within three to four months.
About the projects for Gwadar and the projects related to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the minister said that the Civil Aviation Authority had been given the task to complete the construction of the New Gwadar International Airport by March 2023.
“A water desalination plant in Gwadar will be completed by October this year, while the CDWP has also approved establishment of the University of Gwadar,” the minister told reporters.
The minister said the coalition government had started talks with the Chinese side to start the long-standing Mainline (ML-1) railway project under CPEC. “Both sides have agreed to start the project,” Iqbal said, voicing hope that work on the project may start within a year.
Responding to a question, the minister said the Narowal Sports Complex project had fallen prey to politics, as no funds were released for it. The project was vandalised, he said, adding that each and every penny would be recovered from former prime minister Imran Khan.