ISLAMABAD: The federal government cleared two dozen new schemes worth Rs70.5 billion, which will further thin out already scarce resources in the midst of slow-disbursements of development expenditure by the finance ministry.
Headed by Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Sartaj Aziz, the Central Development Working Party (CDWP) approved 17 projects costing Rs19.2 billion. It forwarded another seven mega projects worth Rs51.3 billion to the Executive Committee of National Economic Council (Ecnec) for approval. The CDWP has the mandate to approve up to Rs3 billion projects and clears the schemes higher than this threshold for the final approval of Ecnec.
The CDWP finally referred a hospital project to Ecnec for final approval, which is to be set up in the constituency of famous politician and member of National Assembly, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed. Ahmed has been accusing the government of delaying the Rs5.3 billion worth of project for establishing of 200 Bed Centre of Excellence for Obstetrics & Gynecology at Rawalpindi due to political differences.
The new projects were approved in the sectors of energy, water, transport and communication, physical planning, health, science and technology, culture, sports and tourism. However, most of these were brick and mortar schemes.
The CDWP cleared energy projects worth Rs18.6 billion, Rs5.8 billion worth projects related to water resources, Rs24.2 billion related to transport and communication, Rs12.2 billion related to science and technology and Rs8.3 billion related to health. The Rs3.8-billion worth projects were approved in food and agriculture sector, Rs66.356 million related to physical planning while projects worth Rs592 million related to culture, sports and tourism were part of the CDWP meeting.
For the current fiscal year 2017-18, the parliament had sanctioned Rs1.001 trillion for federally-funded Public Sector Development Programme. However, during the first quarter of this fiscal year (July-September), the finance ministry allowed only Rs100.5 billion spending – one-tenth of the annual allocation. The first-quarter spending was Rs69 billion less than planning ministry’s authorisation and Rs100 billion below the quarterly ceiling. A significant chunk of Rs100.5 billion was given for parliamentarian’s schemes.
The CDWP referred two projects of the energy sector costing Rs15.9 billion to Ecnec for final approval. These included 32.5MW hydropower project at Attabad Hunza and evacuation of power from 1230MW RLNG power plant near Trimmu, Jhang.
The Rs4.4 billion transmission line will be laid to carry electricity being produced at the fourth LNG-fired power plant being setup in Punjab. The plant is being installed without reviewing the actual demand and supply situation in the coming years, as there is a view in the Power Division that the country will soon have surplus electricity.
The CDWP considered two projects in water resources sector out of which one project, construction of Papin Dam in Tehsil Rawalpindi at a cost of Rs5.8 billion was referred to Ecnec. The project aims at conserving 89,600 acre-feet of water for provision of assured irrigation water supply to 20,000 acres of barani land.
In the transport and communication sector, three projects were approved and two were referred to Ecnec for further approval. The total cost of the approved projects is Rs3.8 billion. The approved projects include upgrade of railway stations at Hassan Abdal, Nankana Sahib and Narowal, construction of black top road in District Chagi, and upgrade of terminal facilities and dry ports.
In physical planning and housing, the CDWP also approved three schemes, which include construction of first floor of Academic Block at Civil Services Academy in Lahore worth Rs140.5 million, construction of auditorium at National Police Academy in Islamabad worth Rs79.5 million, and Business Complex worth Rs345.2 million.
In Science and Technology section, 10 projects were presented to CDWP out of which nine were approved. The total cost of these projects is Rs12.2 billion. In food and agriculture sector, Gwadar Lasbela livelihood support project was referred to Ecnec for further approval.
In the health section, two projects were discussed, one was approved and the other was referred to Ecnec. The approved project is establishment of 300 bedded maternal and child health institute in Nawabshah district Shaheed Benazirabad worth Rs2 billion.
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