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ISLAMABAD: A meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) Wednesday approved Pakistan Railways' upgradation project of (ML-I) and establishment of dry port project near Havelian at an estimated cost of $6.806 billion.

The Ecnec meeting presided over by Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance, Dr Abdul Hafeez also approved Rs115 billion projects for transportation, education sector as well as Pakistan single-window project.

The Ecnec was informed that the project of Pakistan Railways for upgradation of Pakistan Railways' existing Mainline-1 (ML-1) and establishment of dry port near Havelian "was also approved by Ecnec at the rationalized cost of US$ 6,806.783 million on cost-sharing basis between the governments of China and Pakistan."

The execution of the project will be in three packages and in order to avoid commitment charges, the loan amount for each package will be separately contracted.

Under this project, existing 2,655 km track will be upgraded.

The speed of passenger trains shall increase from 65/110 km/h to 165 km/h, and line capacity will increase from 34 to 137/171 trains each way per day.

The Ministry of Railways would constitute a project steering committee for effective supervision and implementation of the project.

While briefing on the PSW project, the meeting was told that the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) would be the sponsoring agency for that project.

The total cost of the project shall be Rs11,074.16 million including Rs9,020 million as foreign exchange component (FEC).

The project will be completed by June 2023, and it is expected to enhance Pakistan's global ranking in cross-border trade-related indicator besides, it will also serve as the integration point, bridging cargo/logistics systems and other trade-related processes.

The project will provide an automated single-entry centralised hub for submission and processing of 90 percent of the licenses, permits, certificates, and other documents (LPCOs) for external trade.

The ECNEC also approved the change in cost-sharing ratios of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and its co-financing partners for "Construction of BRT Red Line Project, Karachi" at the total cost of Rs78,384.33 million including the FEC of Rs66,378.33 million (with cattle-based biomethane as fuel technology).

The project was already approved by the ECNEC on 29th August 2019.

The meeting also approved PhD Scholarship Programme under US-Pakistan Knowledge Corridor (phase-1) at the revised cost of Rs25,226.274 million including the FEC of Rs24,303.543 million.

In the revised PC-1, the scope of the project has been curtailed to 1,000 scholarships (from 1,500 scholarships) mainly due to the appreciation of dollar rate against Pakistan rupee and inclusion of tuition fee/research grant.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020