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ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Planning Development & Special Initiatives Asad Umar on Monday said that Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) Development Package was aimed at not only producing energy but also building the right institutional and regulatory framework and generation transmission distribution capacity.

He expressed these views while chairing a progress review meeting on GB Development Plan which was also attended by GB Chief Minister Khurshid, Secretary Ministry of Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan (KA&GB), Secretary Planning, Secretary Water & Power, Chairman NHA, CEO PPP Authority, Additional Chief Secretary GB, Additional Secretary Planning, and other senior officers from Ministries and Division.

Umar stated that GB power sector should have a regional grid of its own as a connection to the grid posed a challenge due to the distance involved.

He directed Ministry of Planning, Development and Special Initiatives to devise a strategy for training and capacity building of GB officers and directed all the ministries/divisions to complete the feasibilities and submits the PC-Is to the CDWP so that activities on ground could start as early as possible.

Additional Chief Secretary GB briefed the Minister on the GB potential projects in the public sector, non-PSDP initiatives, as well as in the Public-Private Partnership mode. The various priority sectors such as clean energy/hydropower, health, education & Skill development, tourism, private sector development, agriculture, women development, social welfare and youth were discussed. The meeting was informed that all the provincial departments were in contact with relevant Federal Ministries/Divisions and PC-Is of the short-listed schemes were being prepared by the respective departments.

GB government placed special emphasis on clean energy to mitigate severe power crisis in the area, other priority sectors included tourism, gems and minerals, agricultural products, roads and communications and information technology.

Umar also directed the Ministry of Information Technology (IT) and Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to finalise the auction of 3G and 4G licences in GB on priority basis as for remote areas the importance of IT was much bigger than large cities of Pakistan. He said that generating economic activities in remote areas would only be possible through strong IT infrastructure in the future. He said that one of the underlining principles was to create maximum employment opportunities for the youth and people of GB.

The minister also directed Public Private Partnership Authority to assist GB government in strengthening GB PPP Unit and help in the identification of private sector partners. He called on the Board of Investment (BOI) to hold road shows in two or three different cities in Pakistan where the federal and provincial governments could jointly market available public-private opportunities to potential investors.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021


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