ISLAMABAD: The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) met here on Thursday under Finance Minister Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh to approve 33 projects costing about over Rs600 billion, including the foreign exchange component of Rs130 billion.
The meeting was attended by federal ministers, deputy chairman of Planning Commission, the State Bank of Pakistan governor and special assistants to prime minister on water and social sector.
Provincial ministers for finance, planning and development, and representatives from Gilgit-Baltistan, Azad Kashmir, and representatives of sponsoring agencies also attended the meeting.
The meeting also approved purchasing 150 US origin locomotives of Rs55.488 billion to strengthen the Pakistan Railways system and also accorded approval to a vital project of laying a cross-border optical fabric between Pakistan and China at the cost of Rs3.676 billion.
Approved projects are in the sectors of transport and communications, irrigation, food and agriculture, education and health, energy, information technology and city development.
To overcome the power shortage, five projects of energy costing Rs81.5 billion including Power Distribution Enhancement Investment Programme Phase-II, National Compact Florescent Lamps, Addition of 500 and 220V Substations into NTDC System and Combined Cycle Power Plant of 320MW to be gifted by the UAE were approved. The projects will help enhance the existing capacity in the system through conservation and efficient distribution efforts.
Four projects of transport and communication sector costing Rs96.2 billion comprise ‘procurement of (US origin) 150 diesel electric locomotives’, ‘improvement, widening and construction of Kohlu-Sibbi Road Project (length 162.5km)’, ‘improvement and widening of Jaglot-Skardu Road (S-I) (167km)’ and ‘extension of Motorway (M-4) from Khanewal to Multan 57km’.
To ensure food security in the country, three projects of agriculture sector approved by Ecnec included ‘Punjab Economic Opportunities Programme (PEOP)’, ‘Pak-China National Project for Controlled Atmosphere (CA) and Advanced Ventilated Cold Storage’ and ‘National Project for Enhancing Existing Capacity of Grain Storage’. The projects will help reduce poverty in the rural areas and enhance existing food grain storage capacity.
To provide primary healthcare and to achieve the MDGs goals, important projects of the health sector were also approved. They are: ‘Prime Minister’s Programme for Prevention and Control of Hepatitis (Prime Minister’s Emergency Action on Hepatitis)’, ‘Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI)’, and ‘National Programme for Family Planning and Primary Healthcare (NP-FP & PHC)’ and ‘the Lady Health Workers Programme – Phase-II’.
In his opening remarks, Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Dr Nadeemul Haq briefed about the need for rationalizing the portfolio in line with resource availability. He also emphasized the need for a balance between new and ongoing projects, and the optimization of available resources.
In his concluding address, Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh asked the Planning Commission to present a detailed plan in the next Ecnec meeting with a rationalised portfolio reflecting balanced regional growth and focus on completion of projects to provide maximum benefits to the citizens. He also emphasised the need for improving the monitoring and evaluation of projects to ensure transparency and best utilisation of national resources.
Courtesy: Pak Tribune