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ISLAMABAD: With less than three month tenure of the parliament, the National Economic Council (NEC) on Wednesday allowed the Planning Commission to prepare 12th Five-Year Plan (2018-23), targeting 7.5 per cent economic growth rate with a focus on sustainable development goals (SDGs).

Presided over by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, the NEC also enhanced powers of the Development Working Party (DWP) of special areas under federal control (Azad Kashimr, Federally Administered Tribal Areas and Gilgit-Baltistan) to sanction projects up to Rs400 million from Rs200m and that of Development Committees to sanction development expenditure up to Rs1 billion each.

The NEC while approving socio-economic objectives of the 12th Five Year Plan authorised Planning Commission to prepare a draft plan in consultation with the provincial governments and other stakeholders.

The meeting was briefed about the outcome of 11th Five Year Plan (2013-2018). The Planning Commission reported a substantial improvement in the law and order as well as overall energy situation during the past five years. It said 7,653 megawatts of electricity generation capacity had been added as of December 2017 to the total installed capacity of 20,000MW available in 2012-13. Additional 3,163MW capacity will be added by June 2018.

The meeting was also told that indigenous oil production had reached a record 100,698 barrels per day in recent days compared to 76,000 barrels per day in 2012-13.

The 11th Five-Year plan also helped achieve an average annual GDP growth rate of 5pc which stood at 3pc in 2012-13, with decade’s highest growth rate of 5.3pc delivered 2016-17. Industrial output growth rate increased from 2.7 to 5.6pc, including the 5.8pc growth rate achieved in 2015-16. Growth rate of the manufacturing sector rose from 1.6 to 5pc and the large scale manufacturing grew from 0.6pc to 4.7pc during the period. The rate of inflation declined from an average of 12pc to 5.2pc during the plan period.

The meeting was informed that early harvest projects of CPEC were on track with 42 projects being implemented through PSDP 2017-18. It was also reported that a total of Rs1.415 trillion were invested in the energy sector during 2013-18 as compared to Rs706bn in 2008-13. The investment in road sector rose from Rs218bn to Rs850bn.

Rs118bn were invested in Higher Education Commission as compared to Rs86bn during 2008-13 and total national development outlay was increased from Rs1.042tr to Rs2.247tr. Federal PSDP allocation increased from Rs425bn to over Rs1tr while public investment to GDP ratio increased from 3.5pc to 4.3pc.

The meeting was given a broad guideline of socio-economic objectives for the next plan along with provincial priorities which would be aligned with national-level objectives.

The NEC approved a national framework as committed with the international community for achieving provisional sustainable development goals and targets. The council advised the provincial governments and federal ministries and organisations concerned to align their policies and plans and allocate required resources in line with national framework.

The meeting also directed provincial governments to set up institutional mechanism at the district level for achieving sustainable development goals.

The prime minister also presided over a meeting of the Executive Committee of the NEC and approved a total of nine development projects having a total estimated cost of Rs80.13bn. These included Upgradation and Extension of Telecommunication and SCADA System of National Transmission & Disptach Company at a total rationalised cost of Rs11.638bn.

The Ecnec also approved establishment of a 200-bed Center of Excellence for Obstetrics & Gynecology at Rawalpindi with a total cost of Rs5.301bn. Another project - Southern Punjab Poverty Alleviation Project -IFAD assisted was also approved at a cost of Rs7.566bn. The project aims at increasing the household income, employment opportunities, vocational and enterprise training with focus on women, provision of low-cost housing and community infrastructure development for the people of Southern Punjab.

Construction of Northern Bypass of Dera Ghazi Khan (18.9 km) valuing at Rs4.874bn was also approved. Improvement & Widening of Chitral – Boomi – Mastuj – Shandur Road (153 km) at a total rationalised cost of Rs16.756bn was finalised as well.

The meeting further gave nod to a Rs13.012bn project for which he performed ground breaking last week namely construction, land acquisition, affected properties compensation and relocation of utilities for Dualisation of Rawalpindi-Kahuta Road (28.4 km), including 4-Lane bridge over Sihala Railway Pass, Sihala Bypass and Kahuta Bypass.

It also approved the construction of Ziarat Mor-Kach-Harani Road (107.2 km) and Harnai-Sanjavi Road (55.1 km) at a cost of Rs8.379bn to connect Balochistan and Punjab while Rs12.6bn were approved for land acquisition, affected properties compensation and relocation of utilities for KKH Phase-I CPEC (Havelian-Thakot) Project (120.12 km).

Published in Dawn, March 8th, 2018