Oct 29 - Nov 4, 20

Pakistan is currently the most urbanized country in South Asia. It is experiencing a rapid urban transition with growth rates that are twice the rate of increase of the overall population.

Over a third of the total population lives in urban areas, and almost half of Pakistan's residents will be urban by 2015. Pakistan's economy has experienced an even more rapid transformation. Cities and towns are the location of a disproportionate share of value added, with manufacturing and services.

The more urbanized provinces like Punjab have recognized the potential role of cities in economic growth, and the need to make available adequate resources for investment in infrastructure and delivery of services to improve the investment climate of its cities. The rapid urban transition in Pakistan could contribute even more to the pace o f the country's economic growth and poverty reduction if cities did not suffer from severe infrastructure bottlenecks, service deficiencies, poor local governance, and inefficiencies in land and housing markets. Water and sanitation coverage rates have almost stagnated since the 1990s at about 58% and 30%, respectively.

Unaccounted for water is high, collection rates and cost recovery levels are low, existing infrastructure is run down, supply intermittent, and the quality of water dubious. Other urban services are not much better in terms of quality and sustainability. The shortfalls in urban services are not merely an outcome of aggregate resource constraints. They are exacerbated by constraints in the institutional, governance and financial arrangements that have defined local service delivery and financing.

General condition of the services being rendered by various TMAs in Punjab Province is not upto the mark. The service level is poor and people feel dissatisfied almost in every sector.

In view of this situation, the PML-N led Punjab government is focusing on infrastructure development in the province by spending billions of rupees for improvement of the means of communication.

A network of roads, bridges, flyovers and underpasses is being laid so that best traveling facilities could be available to the masses. Timely completion of the projects is the hallmark of Punjab government while the Kalma Chowk flyover, on Ferozepur Road, is a masterpiece of architecture. The Metro Bus Service Project in Lahore would add another feather in the cap of Punjab government on completion of this project.

Punjab has a robust and broad-based economy. It contributes about 60% of the country's gross domestic output. Since 1990 Punjab's economy has posted a higher rate of growth than the national average across all major sectors - agriculture, industry and services.

Indeed Punjab has been the main driver of economic growth for Pakistan. The Government of Punjab has supported this growth process through substantial investments in infrastructure such as irrigation, roads, water supply and urban services, as well as the provision of social services such as education and health. To accelerate economic growth and to ensure that its benefits reach all classes of society, it is important to formulate a coherent strategy that underpins all public sector investments and provides an enabling environment for the private sector.

In order to address this need, the Government of Punjab has also prepared a strategy for accelerating economic growth and improving service delivery. The strategy provides a broad framework within which specific policies, programmes and projects can be conceived and formulated. It is also designed to be a guide for other stakeholders to channel and synergize their efforts.

Punjab government is paying special attention to betterment of infrastructure throughout the province and projects worth billions of rupees are being expeditiously executed in this sector. He said that culture of working in night time has been introduced for ensuring speedy completion of development projects.

A senior leader of PML-N Mohammad Pervaiz Malik told PAGE that Pakistan Muslim League-N led Punjab government has implemented a revolutionary development programme for the welfare of the masses during the last four and a half years in Punjab as a result of which there is a network of various projects throughout the province.

He said that a phase-wise improvement has been made in education, health, infrastructure and other sectors under a comprehensive strategy. He said had the agonizing load shedding not been made due to the incapability of the federal government, the fruits of development would have been reached to the people in a much better manner. He said that PML-N government does not believe only power for the sake of power but considers the power a best source of service to the people.

Punjab Chief Minister Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif has welcomed the successful conduct of energy road show by Turkish companies in Istanbul and said that this energy road show would prove to be helpful in solving energy crisis in Punjab.

Shahbaz said Punjab government is taking effective steps to meet electricity shortage by implementing a concrete strategy, under which power would be generated through traditional as well as alternative methods. He said a great deal of headway has been made in the negotiations with world-renowned companies of other countries, while 22 Turkish companies have expressed their interest in investment in energy sector in Punjab.

Mr. Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif said in a briefing that friendly relations between Turkey and Punjab have been transformed into financial collaboration. He said Turkish companies would be provided all kind of facilities in Punjab and their representatives would pay a visit to Punjab in near future. He said Punjab has 540 million tons coal reserves, whereas it has the capacity to generate electricity through water and solar means. He said Turkish companies have expressed interest in generating energy through coal in Punjab.

He directed that progress should be made in this direction without wasting any time whereas work on the installation of two plants of generation of 50 megawatt electricity each with coal should be started immediately. He said Punjab government itself would make investment in these plants. He said foundation stone of these two projects would soon be laid. Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif directed that international tendering for these energy projects should be made in a transparent manner.

The meeting was informed that, in the next phase, Turkish companies are holding a road show in collaboration with the federal government at Ankara on 22nd November, upon which, the Chief Minister said that energy crisis is not the problem of any single province, but of the whole country. He said we are all Pakistanis and we must benefit from this opportunity, therefore a delegation of Punjab government should also participate in the proposed energy road show. Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif said that Turkish political leadership, especially President of Turkey Abdullah Gul, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Mayor Kadir Topbas are taking personal interest in increasing cooperation with Punjab, not only in energy but in other sectors as well. He said during the energy road show, the Turkish Minister for Energy and Natural Resources assured the Punjab government of all out cooperation in energy sector.

During the meeting, Member National Assembly Ahsan Iqbal informed that Turkish Energy Minister and the chief executive officers of Turkish companies participating in the energy road show expressed their good wishes for Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif and assured vigorous cooperation to the Punjab government in overcoming energy crisis. The representatives of Turkish companies maintained that instead of Istanbul and Ankara, they feel greater joy, ease and satisfaction in doing business in Punjab. They said they appreciate the personal efforts of Mr. Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif to eradicate corruption and promote good governance in Punjab. Ahsan Iqbal said that an encouraging feedback has been received by the Punjab government from the Turkish companies during the energy road show.