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ISLAMABAD: The federal government has proposed Rs13 billion budgetary funds for development projects of agriculture sector for the next financial year 2019-20, envisaging an average growth rate from 2.1 percent to 3.3 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the next five years.

Secretary Planning, Development & Reform Zafar Hasan told this to National Assembly Standing Committee on Planning, Development and Reform which met with Junaid Akbar in the chair at Parliament House on Tuesday. The committee discussed various development projects under China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and 12th Five-Year Plan.

Giving a briefing to the committee, the secretary planning said that main objective of the 12th Five-Year Plan is to achieve 5.3 percent growth rate of national GDP while focusing on agriculture, food security and nutrition, and rural transformation. He said that the ministry also plans to improve agriculture sector in term of trade by 30 percent, increase food exports and reduce trade deficit.

He said that there was 4.1 percent agriculture growth of GDP in 1960 which has been declined and reached 2.1 percent in 2018. He said that lack of research, lack of access to market and old technology are some of main reasons of decline in agriculture sector.

He said that the government wants to improve agriculture sector with the cooperation of China under the CPEC. The secretary said that agriculture sector was also affected due to devolution of this subject to the provinces under the 18th Constitutional Amendment. He said that development funds for agriculture sector have been reduced from Rs26 billion to Rs1.5 billion.

He said that the previous government had given package of Rs 348 billion to agriculture sector including subsidy on fertilisers, electricity bill and other. It was a relief package and was not meant for the development of agriculture sector.

He said that the government would introduce two model villages, one each in AJK and Gilgit-Baltistan. He said that the government is collaborating with China in achieving foot and mouth disease (FMD) free zone and the matter is under negotiation. He said that the government has declared South Punjab as FMD area. He said that technology for processing of dates and good facilities for breeding would be transferred from China under the CPEC.

The committee recommended that the representatives of the provincial government shall be called in the next meeting in Planning Commission for further deliberations on agriculture sector to evolve comprehensive policy about it.

Project Director/Coordinator CPEC Hassan Daud Butt said while briefing the Committee on CPEC that total portfolio of CPEC projects is $49.66 billion. He said that total cost of the energy projects (IPP financing mode) is $34.76 billion out of which projects worth $4.98 billion have been completed while projects worth $18.26 billion are under implementation. He said that the energy projects of $ 11.5 billion are in pipeline. He said that three projects of transport and infrastructure sector of $5.83 billion are under implementation and $257 million (grant) of Gwadar City Master Plan and Airport is under implementation. He said that ML-1 Railway project of $ 8.2 billion would be completed in different phases. He said that first phase would be started form Rori to Nawab Shah.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2019