QUETTA, June 21: The government of Balochistan will hire international consultants to seek advice on developing its rich mineral resources, attracting investment and carrying out development planning.
Speaking at a post-budget briefing on Friday, Chief Minister Dr Abdul Malik Baloch, who also holds the portfolio of provincial finance, said his government has planned organising a conference of investors, non-government organisations and international donors to tell them that the security conditions were not as bad in the province as were being portrayed by media.
“We want to invite investors, foreign donors and NGOs here to prove that Balochistan is inhabited by people who direly need their help for skill training and jobs,” he said.
He defended the government's decision to boost investment spending to Rs44bn next year from the original estimates of Rs37bn for this year. “We have the capacity to efficiently spend even Rs500bn if the federal government is generous enough to give us,” he said.
He said his government would soon revisit all major projects like Saindak, Reko Diq and Gwadar Port and take a decision on merit in the interests of the people of the province. “I assure you that this government will defend the rights of the province over its natural and other resources,” he contended.
The chief minister, who was flanked by ministers Abdul Rahim Ziaratwal and Nawab Mohammad Khan Shahwani, additional secretary planning Aslam Shakir and finance secretary Dostain Khan Jamaldini, said the province had a large appetite for development funds and the federal government too had allocated Rs45bn in its public sector development programme (PSDP). “The problem is federal government allocates money for development projects in the province but when execution time comes, it cuts the size of funds. This time we have requested Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif not to reduce the federal development funds for the province in the middle of the year and he has accepted our request,” the chief minister said.
He said his government had aligned investment spending with social and economic indicators of the province to provide quality social services like education, health and drinking water to the people and bring the poor out of the poverty trap. He pointed out that the funds for education had been drastically increased because the province lagged far behind other provinces in literacy.
In answer to a question, he said his government was committed to plugging the financial leakages as well as to improving the governance to stop corruption and misuse of funds. He said he would proceed slowly but surely to weed out corruption in the province. He asked the media to play the role of watchdog to point out the shortcomings of his government. “I will take guidance from you. But do not try to scandalise the government without any basis,” he said.
He said his government would try to weed out unfeasible incomplete development schemes and reduce the throw-forward of uplift projects for efficient utilisation of funds in future. He said the non-development expenditure was also being reduced. The current expenditure has been raised by just 10pc compared with 34pc increase in the development spending, he added.