ECNEC approves 19 projects costing Rs 48.4 billion
* Recommends awarding of Jinnah Hydropower project contract to Chinese company
By Khalid Mustafa
ISLAMABD: The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) on Monday approved nineteen projects costing Rs 48.4 billion with a foreign exchange component (FEC) of Rs 5.9 billion.
It also approved the awarding of the contract for the Jinnah Hydropower project to Chinese company Dongfang. “ECNEC has recommended to the prime minister that the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed with the Chinese company be honoured,” an official who attended the ECNEC meeting, the first of the fiscal year, told Daily Times.
ECNEC earlier refused to award the contract to Dongfang, arguing that contracts for all hydropower projects are awarded after open bidding and that procedure should be followed for the Jinnah project as well.
The source said the committee’s decision took into account that President General Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Zafarullah Jamali, in recent visits to China, promised the Chinese authorities that Pakistan would abide by the MoU signed with Dongfang.
The official said ECNEC, chaired by Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz, also provisionally reviewed the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) for fiscal 2002-2003. The committee was satisfied that Rs 132.5 billion of the Rs 134 billion budget was spent, a utilisation of 99 percent.
The ECNEC chairman said it was important that development project for this financial year be monitored so the Rs 160 billion PSDP budget for 2003-04 is spent promptly and transparently. “Provincial and federal government departments were urged to review progress on projects every month, identify bottlenecks and take prompt action.”
According to a press release, ECNEC approved Rs 767.5 million spending on education projects; Rs 8.5 billion on communications; Rs 6.1 billion on housing; Rs 7.9 billion on social infrastructure; Rs 1.6 billion on science and technology; Rs 12.9 billion on irrigation; Rs 267.5 million on health; Rs 319.5 million on governance; Rs.280.5 million on hydroelectric power; and Rs 9.7 billion on other areas.
“These projects will trigger economic activity, generate employment, improve social and physical infrastructure, improve water utilisation to optimise crop output, provide incentives to the construction industry, improve the quality of life, and create hope and opportunities for the people of Pakistan,” the press release said.
One of the education projects approved will build 350 schools in parts of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) where there are currently no primary schools. The project will cost an estimated Rs 448.2 million with a Rs 303.2 million FEC. The schools will have capacity for 21,000 thousand primary students, and employ 700 teachers, including 350 nursemaids. The project is scheduled for completion at the end of financial 2007-8.
ECNEC also approved the establishment of a national education assessment system (NEAS), which aims to institutionalise a system to monitor for continued improvement in the education system.
Phase II of the PAKSAT project, costing Rs 1.9 billion with an FEC of Rs 1.7 billion, was approved to improve telecommunications. PAKSAT would give Pakistan effective global satellite communication, the press release said.
ECNEC approved phase II of the rural digital development project in Azad Jammu and Kashmir, which will cost Rs 1.5 billion, with a Rs 876 million FEC. The projects includes the installation of 57 new digital exchanges, 57 digital microwave links, five digital sureties for the Internet, nine satellite stations, extension of 16 exchanges, 52,000 new digital lines and the laying of 65 kilometres of optic fibre from Manshera to Muzzafarabad with the construction of 17 microwave stations.
The committee approved Rs 1.9 billion, including an FEC of Rs 1.2 billion, for a telecommunication regulation and privatisation support project. Rs 3.1 billion was approved for the development of G-13 sector. The project will develop 5,969 plots ranging from 111 to 500 sq yards on 706.61 acres. 350 acres will be for sale.
ECNEC approved Rs 7.9 billion for the Quetta Water Supply and Environmental improvement project, which will increase the water supply to the city from ten million to 26 million gallons. The project will develop new tube wells, rehabilitate the existing water system, install water meters, control leakages and losses, augment reservoir capacity and construct a sewage network. It is scheduled for completion in 60 months.
The committee agreed to Rs 298.8 million, with a Rs 128.1 million FEC, for upgrading the mineral and metallurgy research centre (MMRC). The centre will get training facilities that allow it to award MSc, MPhil and PhD degrees.
ECNEC approved Rs 1.3 billion spending with an FEC of Rs 643.9 million on the PCSIR-Industrial Linkage programme, which will buy equipment for food, textile, minerals science, pharmaceutical and chemical technology centres. The equipment will be installed at facilities in Karachi, Lahore and Peshawar that will provide subsidised services according to World Trade Organisation (WTO) and International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) requirements. The project will create skilled manpower, improve research facilities and increase capacity building.
The Karachi Northern By-Pass project, which will build a 56.8 km road between the Karachi port and National Highway for Rs 2.9 billion. The committee approved Rs 12.9 billion with an FEC of Rs 542 million for revamping the irrigation and drainage system in Sindh. Under the scheme, canal banks will be strengthened, silt will be cleared, canals will be stone-pitched, regulators and bridges will be repaired and modules will be extended. The project is scheduled for completion by the end of 2006-7. It aims to reduce water losses, the water-crop ratio, improve efficiency, increase agriculture production, and create employment in Sindh.
ECNEC approved a Rs 243.5 million project for the construction of an under pass at The Mall-canal intersection in Lahore. The project will be funded by the Punjab government. ECNEC approved Rs 337.6 million with an FEC of Rs 284.8 million for an immunisation programme in the NWFP which aims to eradicate polio and neonatal tetanus by 2005, and reduce incidence of measles by 90 percent and measles deaths by 95 percent by 2004. The project also targets diphtheria, whooping cough and childhood tuberculosis, and tetanus in pregnant women.
The committee approved Rs 277.8 million for the Mardan Medical complex in the NWFP. Rs 319.5 million was approved for the construction of a National Accountability Bureau complex, to be completed in two years.
Another project approved was for the development of Sector I-15 in Islamabad, at an estimated cost of Rs 2.9 billion. The project will build 9,584 low-cost residential plots, 1,568 multi-story flats, develop commercial lots, amenity plots, roads and parks.
ECNEC approved the construction of the 4.8 MW Battar Hydroelectric power station in AJK. It also approved the annual funding of 5,000 PhD fellowships at an estimated cost of Rs 6.5 billion.
The committee approved a five-year, Rs 3.3 billion project which aims to improve education standards by hiring foreign faculty. ECNEC also reviewed the progress of ongoing projects. It said 59 projects costing Rs 3.6 billion in the Punjab, 99 projects costing Rs 7.2 billion in Sindh, 46 projects costing Rs 4.4 billion in the NWFP, and 25 projects costing Rs 892.5 million in Balochistan were happily underway.
The federal ministers for food and agriculture, information technology, privatisation, environment, the advisor on science and technology, provincial ministers, federal and provincial secretaries and senior finance ministry officials attended the meeting.