ISLAMABAD: The Central Development Working Party (CDWP) has cleared as many as seven development projects at a cost of Rs115.80 billion.

The CDWP met with Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Prof Ahsan Iqbal in the chair at P Block Secretariat on Thursday.

The meeting was attended by Secretary Planning, Chief Economist, Members Planning Commission and representatives from the various ministries.

The forum considered seven projects related to the Ministry of Communication, Ministry of Housing and Works, Ministry of Planning, Development and Special Initiatives and Higher Education Commission (HEC).

The CDWP cleared National Programmer Post -Flood Reconstruction: Climate Resilience Enhancement Project in Balochistan and other provinces at the cost of Rs88 billion million, Strengthening of Labs in five leading universities UET, Peshawar, Taxila, Lahore, Khuzdar, and NED, Karachi at the cost of Rs6.637 billion, construction of National Sport City NSC at Narowal (revised third PC) at the cost of Rs5.76 billion, construction of Yarik-Tank Road, DI Khan Development Package at the cost of Rs4.418 billion, Competitive Grants Program for Policy Oriented Research at the cost of Rs1,756.000m, improvement/ widening of Spera Ragha Road from Kanozai Cross to Loralai Qilla Saifullah Road at the cost of Rs6.137 billion, and Innovation Center and Innovation Park at UET, Lahore Sub campus at the cost of Rs2.966 billion.

The CDWP has approved a project National Programmer Post-Flood Reconstruction: Climate Resilience Enhancement Project in Balochistan and other provinces at the cost of Rs88 billion. The Ministry of Planning, Development and Special Initiatives will be a sponsoring agency of the project. The federal government will obtain a loan from the World Bank (WB) and transfer to the government of Balochistan as a grant-in-aid. The project will consist of four components which include rehabilitation and reconstruction of community infrastructure including irrigation, drainage, flood protection, roads, WASH and other community facilities; reconstruction of damaged housing units; livelihood support, natural resources and watershed management and institutional strengthening and reform units.

Similarly, a federal project steering committee to be co-chaired by Minister Planning and Chief Minister Balochistan will provide policy guidance and monitor overall project and its implementation.

“Balochistan has been hit hard by the devastating floods and the provincial government faces financial constraints and can’t finance post-flood recovery and rehabilitation efforts on its own,” said Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal, while approving the project.

“The federal government has decided to get a loan from the WB and provide Balochistan as a grant-in-aid. We want to assure the people of Balochistan that the federal government stands with them in this time of crisis and is committed to taking all possible steps to address pressing socio-economic issues,” the minister said.

The forum has approved Construction of National Sport City NSC at Narowal (Revised third PC) at the cost of Rs5.761 billion. The Ministry of Inter-Provincial Coordination (IPC) is the sponsoring agency of the project while Pakistan Sports Board will execute the project.

The project is for construction of an International Standard Sports Complex having facilities for all the games at one location at a 3rd revised cost of Rs5.761 billion. All the infrastructure and facilities will be at par with latest international standards and capable of holding international, regional and national level championships/sports events for almost all indoor and outdoor games.

The scope of the revised project consists of construction of cricket stadium with pavilion and seating area, football ground with athletic track, pavilion and seating arrangement, hockey ground with synthetic turf and seating capacity, squash courts with seating steps, two tennis courts, one volleyball court, gymnasium, one basketball court, kabbadi court and covered swimming pool with allied facilities, mosque and others. The project was close to completion in 2017 but the previous government was stopped as a result the cost has increased from Rs2.994 billion to Rs5.761 billion.

The CDWP formed that the project would have been completed within the approved cost if it’s funding would not have been stopped in 2018. Due to lack of funding the contractors were demobilised and warranties on many items got expired. Therefore, because of delay of four years, on account of price escalation, contractor’s claims and repairs due to damages. An additional cost of Rs2.1 billion shall be incurred which has been verified by the Consultants NESPAK and ZEERAK and minister of Inter-provincial coordination.

The minister observed that responsibility should be fixed against the responsible people who deliberately delayed the project which caused a huge loss to the national exchequer. Who is responsible for the huge loss to the national exchequer and they must be punished, said the minister, adding that the Ministry of Planning Commission will prepare a reference against the responsible people and send it to the Public Accounts Committee for action.

During the meeting, the minister also observed that due to escalation of cost the claims of the contractors must be verified and in this regard a committee will be formed to verify the claims made by the contractors.

The IPC Ministry did not release the funds despite having sufficient funds in 2017, said the minister while regretting that the public interest project was victimised for political reasons. The minister also asked the Ministry of IPC to complete the remaining work of the project so that inauguration could be possible in March 2023.

The forum has cleared a project Strengthening of Labs in five leading universities UET, Peshawar, Taxila, Lahore, Khuzdar and NED, Karachi at the cost of Rs6.631 billion. The key objective of the project is to upgrade the lab equipment of the engineering universities of Pakistan to the students with modern, updated equipment enabling improvement in the research and development of the country. During the meeting, the Minister directed HEC to engage a procurement consultant to ensure the maximum cost of the equipment which will be used in the labs and every university is directed to ensure the proper maintenance of the equipment.

The project was close to completion in 2017 but the previous government stopped the funding of the project and initiated a NAB reference against the then Minister Planning, Ahsan Iqbal and officials. Islamabad High Court quashed the reference declaring that there was no sign of corruption against Minister Ahsan Iqbal and NAB exceeded its limits to arrest him

The minister also observed that every engineering university should make a five-year roadmap in line with global practices and their monitoring should be evaluated.

Similarly, the CDWP also approved the Innovation Center and Innovation Park project at UET Lahore Sub campus at the cost of Rs2.966 billion.

The CDWP approved the Competitive Grants Program for Policy-Oriented Research at the cost of Rs1.756 billion. The Ministry of Planning, Development and Special Initiatives is the sponsoring agency of the project while the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE) will execute the project across Pakistan. The core function of PIDE is advising the government through policy-oriented research on critical economic development and public policy issues.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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