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KARACHI: Caretaker Chief Minister Sindh, former Justice Maqbool Baqar in his meeting with Prime Minister Anwar-ul-Haq Kakar at PM House discussed five important development projects of his province and urged him to issue necessary directives to remove bottlenecks for the launch and early completion.

A statement issued here from CM House on Monday said that the chief minister held an important meeting with Prime minister Kakar in which he apprised the PM about the impediments that emerged in five projects which could be removed with his interventions. The PM’s response was not only positive but quite supportive and helpful, the CM said.

KCR: The CM told the prime minister that the federal government needed to provide a Sovereign Guarantee for the Karachi Circular Railways (KCR) project loan, showcasing strong commitment at the national level.

Ongoing projects: Sindh CM for expediting work

“The sovereign guarantee adds a layer of financial security and assurance for investors and stakeholders involved in the project,” the CM said and requested the prime minister that the federal government should sign a framework agreement so that the project can move ahead under CPEC.

CM Baqar also requested the prime minister to direct Pakistan Railways to hand over land along the Right of Way (RoW) for KCR which was critical for the success of the project.

The prime minister assured the CM that he would resolve the issue of the Sindh government’s important projects.

BRT Redline: Interim CM discussing the Red Line project told the prime minister that the project was being implemented with the assistance of ADB and co-financers’ including AIIB, AFD and GCF.

The PC-1 with respect to the Karachi Red Line BRT project was cleared by CDWP on April 15, 2019, and approved by ECNEC on August 29, 2019, at the Cost of Rs 78,384.33 million ($ 503.21 million). The loan agreement was signed in June 2020, between the Sindh govt and the Asian Development Bank and became effective in October 2020.

The CM apprised the PM that the price adjustment/escalation formula proposal with a cost impact of Rs 6.31 billion, was approved by Trans Karachi Board and Sindh Cabinet. The Sindh government has forwarded the price adjustment/escalation formula proposal to the ECNEC/Planning Commission for anticipation approval, which has been pending for more than two months.

The CM requested the prime minister to advise the ECNEC/Planning Commission for the earliest issuance of Anticipatory Approval. It will allow TransKarachi to cover the losses, reinstate the work at the Site and subsequently, complete the project on time.

Prime Minister Kakar assured the CM that he would discuss the matter with the Planning Commission to accord the approval.

K-IV: Sindh CM while discussing Greater Karachi Bulk Water Supply (K-IV) said that the dilapidated infrastructure and a weak distribution system have resulted in widening the gap between the supply and consumption of water, which was bound to pile miseries on the people.

He added that the alarming situation persuaded the federal government to undertake the “Greater Karachi Bulk Water Supply Scheme K-IV, Phase-I (260 MGD)” project through Wapda. The revised PC-I has already been approved by ECNEC in 2022 for Rs 126,404.751 million.

“Originally scheduled to be completed by March 2023, the project has been delayed for multiple reasons and is now planned to be completed by October 2024,” the CM said.

Keeping in view the urgency to complete the project on time, the federal government requested an allocation of Rs 68.119 billion in the PSDP 2023-24, against which Rs.15.5 billion only, have been allocated.

He added that the allocation was grossly inadequate for the project and may, therefore, not be completed by October 2024.

The caretaker CM requested the prime minister to direct the concerned ministry to allocate an additional amount of at least Rs 24.5 billion towards the Greater Karachi Bulk Water Supply Scheme K-IV project during the current financial year 2023-24, allowing the project to be completed within the time prescribed.

The prime minister assured his support to the project.

Malir Expressway: The CM told the prime minister that work on the Malir Expressway was in full swing but some NOCs / permission from the federal government ministries posed major obstacles in carrying forward the construction activities and the Commercial Banks - the lenders on the project - have made these NOCs a condition for moving forward with disbursements.

“If these NOCs are not arranged by 15th November 2023 the lenders/banks will stop any further disbursements,” the CM said.

The prime minister assured the CM that he would talk to the concerned ministry to expedite the issuance of the NOCs so that the project could get its finances at the earliest.

Cross-input Tax: The chief minister also discussed the cross-input tax under which the federal government has deducted Rs 31 billion from the Sindh government. He urged the prime minister to direct the FBR to reconcile the amount with the Sindh Revenue Board (SRB) so that the amount deducted from the government could be settled.

The prime minister told the chief minister to send his team comprising provincial chairman Planning and Development, the secretary Transport and Mass Communication and other concerned officers to Islamabad where a mutual meeting with concerned federal secretaries would be organised to settle the issues.

The PM directed the chief minister to coordinate with PM Secretariat to decide the date of the meeting.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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