The approved projects indicate increased spending on social sector, water, energy, and communications



Jan 19 - 25, 2004





The Extensive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) in its quarterly meeting in Islamabad last week approved 33 projects involving a total expenditure of Rs. 185.6 billion including a foreign exchange component of Rs. 29.3 billion. The 33 projects pertaining to eleven sectors to be launched in current financial year will be completed during the next four to five years.

Giving details of the approved projects, the Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz who presided over the meeting told newsmen that the highest allocation of over Rs.100 billion has been made for seven project in the water sector followed by health sector with four projects costing over Rs.9 billion. Six projects were approved in communication sector costing over Rs. 14.5 billion including FEC component of over Rs. 7 billion, three projects in devolution and area development costing Rs. 2590.455 million including FEC Rs. 374.528 million, two projects in rural development costing Rs. 10407.3 million; two projects in electronic media amounting to Rs. 2639.75 including FEC Rs. 1573.488 million; two projects in physical planning and housing costing Rs. 6801.906 million including FEC Rs.1056.42 million; two projects in education amounting to Rs.10019.199 million including FEC Rs.4153.337; three projects in energy amounting to Rs. 12875.314, including foreign exchange component of Rs. 6660.102 and one project each in IT and industry costing Rs. 1841.130 million and Rs. 311 million respectively.

The approved projects indicate increased spending on social sector, water, energy, and communications. These projects would improve availability of irrigation water, increased production of electricity, improvement in communication network and provision of quality education to empower people, create job opportunities, improve social services, including health and education facilities and reduce poverty, said the minister.

Giving sector wise details, the minister said ECNEC approved Rs. 700 million construction of 43 new minor canals in the command of pat feeder canal and remodeling/extension of existing 49 minor canals in water sector. Located in Naseerabad district of Balochistan, the project would ensure an equitable distribution and to irrigate an area of 74,884 acres with assured and dependable water. It would increase agriculture production in Balochistan and significantly contribute to create employment and increase GDP. To make Punjab irrigation system even more efficient and improve water management, the ECNEC approved Rs. 29049 million, Punjab barrages rehabilitation and modernization project. Under the project Jinnah, Taunsa, Khanki, Balloki, Sulemanki, and Islam Barrages in Punjab will be modernized and rehabilitated. The meeting approved Rs. 30996.20 million lining of irrigation channels project in Punjab. The project would enable increased water supply, water conservation and generation of new water resources. It would also reduce seepage, improve environments, and ensure operational efficiency of the irrigation system in Punjab. Extension of Pat Feeder canal for utilization of Indus water for Balochistan as per water accord 1991 was approved at a cost of Rs. 2243.798 million. It would provide irrigation supplies to an additional area of 159,000 acres located at the tail end of the canal. ECNEC approved Rs. 12445 million for lining of distributaries and minors in Sindh province. It would benefit perennial and non-perennial areas in the canal command of Guddu, Sukkur, and Kotri barrages. The project would increase agricultural production, improve water distribution, and generate employment opportunities. ECNEC approved Rs. 4485.200 million for Balochistan Effluent Disposal into RBOD.

About energy sector the minister said the ECNEC approved Keyal Khawar Hydropower project at a cost of Rs. 7066.862 million with foreign exchange component of Rs. 3032.080 million. It would generate 479 GWH energy per annum out of which 135 GWH will be available during four hours per day peak. Rs. 2909.35 million Sahiwal 500 KV sub-station was approved in the province of Punjab to ensure reliable and quality power supply to the consumers. The meeting approved up-gradation of Load Dispatch System (Phase-II) at a cost of Rs. 2895.00 million. The project to be executed in Islamabad envisages state of the art computer equipment, system control and data acquisition, telecommunication system, remote terminal units to all power generation stations. The system would ensure smooth supply of electricity to the power consumers.



Elaborating the details of health sector Shaukat Aziz said to provide sale of art medical facilities to the northern areas and to create an effective health infrastructure, The ECNEC approved Rs.549.179 million with foreign exchange component of Rs. 207.201 million Gilgit Institute of Radiotherapy and Nuclear medicines. The institute would provide treatment to 5000 patients and equal number of follow up cases suffering from a variety of cancerous and non-cancerous diseases. The ECNEC approved Rs. 22460.660 million National programme for Family Planning and Primary Health care. It would deploy 87500 lady heath workers to provide primary health care especially in less developed rural areas. The programme would reduce mortality, improve health care and give access to the people on family planning choices.

This is perhaps the highest development programme approved by the ECNCE in a decade. For the past several years' resources constraints had brought development activity to a virtual standstill. As a result, the social sector development received as serious setback and also adverbially impacting an already disend employment situation. No wonder that the poverty has increased to an alarming level during the last decade. The new high level spending on development provided a ray of hope to the poor and unemployed. The biggest allocation of over Rs. 100 billion to arrange water resources is most appropriate to meet the growing shortage of irrigation water as well as provide job to thousands of unskilled labour force passing miserable life in rural and sub urban areas. The present day needs of the country demand that the availability of water should be increased in order to sustain growth in agriculture sector with this is connected the construction of many farm to market roads which is critically important to improve the rural economy. The development of communication sector and improving the hydle power generation will support the growth process. The project in the field of energy in Keyal Khawar Hydro Power Project which is to be built at a cost of over Rs. 7 billion to produce 479 GWH new electricity annually out of which about 135 will be available during peak hours. It is an important step of our planners in the direction of building small hydle power projects wherever possible rather than to insist on mega energy generation scheme.

A reasonable amount has been provided for amount has been provided for Madrassah reform programme that is to cover various parts of the country including FATA, FANA and Islamabad Capital Territory. It is rightly directed at bridging the gap between the main stream and Madrassah education through the introduction of English, social sciences, mathematics and general science as core subject at the primary and middle level while English, economics and computer science to be taught at intermediate level.

All the projects approved by the ECNEC are of vital importance from the point of view of job creation in the public sector if the allocated funds are made timely available and fully utilized. In order to ensure that it will be necessary that the development funds are released by the government as and when required without any delay and the Planning Commission reinforces itself to effectively monitor the implementation of the project. Prime Minister is scheduled to hold a meeting of ECNEC by the end of this month to review the development programme approved. That would be a good occasion for all concerned to putting in place an effective mechanism to monitor the progress of the various development projects.