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ISLAMABAD: A meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) has approved eight projects of power and transport sectors of over Rs401 billion, and "simplification of Planning Commission Processes/ Procedure to Improve Project Management (Guidelines) envisaging reforms from project identification of the project to release of funds and monitoring and evaluation."

The Ecnec meeting presided over by Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh considered five proposals, eight projects moved by the Ministry of Planning and Development, five transport sector and three for power sector.

The meeting also approved the "Simplification of Planning Commission/Planning Division Development Processes/ Procedure to improve Project Management" (Guidelines) envisaging reforms; (a) in Project Identification and Preparation of PC-1; (b) processing and approval of PC-1; (c) Project Management and Staffing; (d) Opening of Project Assignment Account; (e) Procedure for release of funds, and (f) Monitoring and evaluation.

The Ecnec considered and approved construction of 157MW Madian Hydropower project at District Swat under the World Bank (WB) assisted Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Hydropower and Renewable Energy Development Programme at the total rationalised cost of Rs79.374 billion with foreign exchange component (FEC) of Rs57.339 billion.

The meeting directed that the sponsors would adhere to the IPP regime followed by the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) and all costs would be rationalised as per the Nepra cost structure.

The sponsors would hire financial consultants to negotiate tariff and ensure least cost generation at an affordable price/tariff of the hydropower project.

The meeting also considered and approved proposal for construction of 88MW Gabral Kalam Hydropower Project with projected cost of Rs36.430 billion and FEC Rs8.815 billion.

The Ecnec directed that the sponsors would adhere to the IPP regime followed by the Nepra, and all cost would be rationalised as per the Nepra cost structure. The sponsors will hire financial consultants to negotiate tariff and ensure least cost generation at an affordable price/tariff of the hydropower project.

The sponsors will share with the CDWP, the progress achieved on the milestones given after six months of approval of the project from the Ecnec. The Ecnec also approved Evacuation of Power from 2,160MW Dasu HPP stage-I Dasu to Islamabad via Mansehra, at the total cost of Rs132.249 billion with FEC of Rs112.228 billion.

The meeting was informed that the expected timeline for completion of the project was five years, and was proposed to be financed by the World Bank. The main objective of the project is the evacuation of power from 2,160MW Dasu Hydropower Project to respective load centers of the DISCOs by construction of 765kV double circuit transmission line from Dasu Hydropower project to Islamabad via Mansehra.

On another proposal of the Planning and Development Ministry, the ECNC approved Indus Highway (N-55) Additional Carriageway Project (Shikarpur-Rajanpur section) covering length of 221.95 kms with rationalisation of cost Rs44.703 billion. (The Asian Development Bank will share the project of Rs40.233 billion).

The tentative timeline for the completion of the project is three years, and it envisages construction of additional 2-lane and widening/rehabilitation of existing 2-lane carriageway of Shikarpur-Rajanpur section of Indus highway N-55.

The total length of Shikarpur-Rajanpur section is 221.950 kms that will be upgraded to a 4-lane dual carriageway with each lane 3.65m wide. The National Highways Authority (NHA) would be responsible for the execution, operation and maintenance of the project, and Rs1,000 million had been earmarked in the federal PSDP for the completion of this project in 2020-21.

The meeting considered and approved construction of Rajanpur-DG Khan section of N-55 as 4-Lane Highway 9,121.50 kms at the total rationalised cost of Rs33.172 billion with the ADB share Rs28.528 billion. The project is expected to be completed in three years by the NHA.

The project road starts from Rajanpur and passes through Fazilpur, Muhammad Pur Dewan, Jampur, and terminates at Dera Ghazi Khan. The government has allocated Rs500 million in the federal PSDP 2020-2021 for the project.

Another project considered and approved was Dualisation and Rehabilitation of the DG Khan- DI Khan Section of the N-55(208.19km) at the total rationalised cost of Rs52.276 billion with the ADB share of Rs44.957 billion. The project will be completed in three years by the NHA.

The government has allocated Rs500 million in the federal PSDP 2020-2021 for the project. The meeting also approved rehabilitation and up-gradation of 79.890 kms, Jhaljao-Bela Road at the total rationalised cost of Rs11.118 billion without any foreign exchange component (FEC).

The project will be completed in three years time by the NHA and Peshawar Northern Bypass Project 32.2 kms with second revised cost of Rs21,338.005 million. The project envisages construction of 32.20 kms, 4-lane bypass with service roads on either side, on the northern side of Peshawar city.

The meeting was informed that the total 32.2km distance of the bypass has been divided into three packages for construction purposes, Section-I included M-1 Intersection Charsadda Road Interchange (7.60 kms in length).

Section-II Charsadda Road Interchange-Warsak Road Interchange (11.6 kms). Section-III: which has been subdivided in Section 3A and 3B; Warsak Road to Nasir Bagh Road (5.50 kms) - from Nasir Bagh to end point at Takhtabaig Khwar check post (7.50 kms).

The Ecnec also approved in principle the Locust Emergency and Food Security Project. The World Bank shall provide $200 million for the project.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020