Revised PSDP: MPs for allocating funds to Gwadar projects

ISLAMABAD - Showing serious concern over stopping of 12 Gwadar based projects, the Senate Standing Committee on Planning Development and Reforms on Tuesday recommended the government to allocate funds for the establishment of Gwadar University and fish harbor projects in revised Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP).

The 12 projects of Gwadar, which include Gwadar Fish Harbor, have been stopped because of financial crisis, said the advisor to the Planning Ministry on PSDP, Asif Sheikh here while briefing the Senate Standing Committee on Planning, Development and Reforms. The Committee, which met under the chairmanship of Senator Agha Shahzaib Khan Durrani, considered recommendations of the members on the Finance Supplementary Amendment Bill 2018 relating to Public Sector Development Program 2018-19.

The planning advisor said that CPEC is number one priority and there will be no cut on either the corridor projects or the projects approved by the CDWP. He said that the project of Gwadar Fish Harbor along with other Gwadar based projects had been stopped. Chairman of the committee said that this project of Fish Habor is very important for the residents of Gwadar and unless the project is completed the issue of the unemployment of the local people cannot be resolved.

The Committee also proposed for safeguarding the interest of locals living in Gwadar as they have the first right on the resources. “Fishermen are the owners of Gwadar and if you do not provide them their rights and stop their work they will protest and then you will dub them anti-CPEC and traitors,” said Usman Kakar. Usman Kakar said that how the planning ministry on its own discretion can stop funding for the projects.

Senators said that the East Bay Fish Harbor has already been handed over to the port while the West Bay Fish Harbor has been closed down by the ministry of planning. Asif Sheikh said that the Fish Harbor project can be completed from the funds allocated for CPEC projects.

The chairman of the committee also questioned the planning official regarding the construction of Gwadar University and said that where does the university exist? There is nothing on the ground as it is only on the papers, he added. However, advisor on PSDP said that they have allocated a huge amount for the construction of the Gwadar University and we have given it to HEC and they can tell where the land for the university has been acquired.

Official of the HEC informed the committee that the charter of Gwadar University has been approved and land has also been acquired for the project. They further said no releases were made to the HEC during the last six months of the previous fiscal. Out of total allocations of Rs 35 billion for HEC during fiscal 2017-18, only Rs 15 billion were released. Advisor to the planning ministry on PSDP said that Rs 661 billion were released for the projects during fiscal 2017-18.

The committee also recommended for ensuring appropriate financing of the projects related to education, health and water conservation. The meeting proposed for constructing cardiology unit in Baluchistan in order to provide health facilities to the people. The committee also sought the federal government's intervention in the drought hit areas of the Tharr Parkar in order to control the malnutrition and stunted growth.

Meanwhile, Adviser on Planning Commission Asif Sheikh said that federal PSDP has been revised from Rs 800 billion to Rs 675 billion. He said that a total of Rs 125 billion was slashed from the total PSDP for the year 2018-19, which will be spent on other priority projects of the social sector development in the country. He said that 400 unapproved development projects for financing under PSDP had been dropped and maximum efforts were made to continue all such projects where 10 percent was spent from the public money.

Asif Sheikh said that these projects would be considered after the approval of the relevant authorities for financing and funds. He informed that China-Pakistan Economic Corridor was on the top priority and all the developmental projects would be financed and completed within the given time frame. He said that in PSDP, 2018-19 an amount of Rs 15 billion had been allocated for different projects under CPEC, besides making allocation for the different projects in Gwadar for ensuring their completion in time.

The Committee expressed its serious concerns over the absence of secretaries of Finance and Water and Power in the meeting and asked them to ensure their presence in the meeting.

Senator Momin Khan Afridi said that the funds allocated for FATA are being utilized for the entire country and demanded that funds allocated for FATA should only be utilized for the area.

Senator Hidayatullah said that new Pakistan has been built but FATA was not merged in KP. He said that FATA is still under the old system and demanded that huge funds should be provided to change the system. “I am the member of FATA reforms implementation committee but no meeting has taken so far,” Senator Hidayatullah said.

Senators Kauda Babar, Muhammad Usman Khan Kakar, Shaheen Khalid Butt, Hidayat Ullah, Momin Khan Afridi and Gianchand besides senior officials of Planning Commission, Finance, Water and Benazir Income Support Fund attended the meeting.

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