RAWALPINDI: The Prime Minister’s Special Assistant on Political Affairs Naeemul Haq said on Saturday that the government will sell unutilised state land to meet the budget deficit in the coming days.
“State departments have land which has not been utilised for many decades, and the government has plans to sell it on the market rate to overcome the annual budget deficit. The money generated through this will be spent on development,” he said, while speaking at the National Press Club Rawalpindi Camp.
According to Rawalpindi Development Authority (RDA) Chairman Arif Abbasi and Parks and Horticulture Authority (PHA) Chairman Mohammad Asif, Mr Haq said Rawalpindi’s state land will be sold and the earnings spent on development projects for the city.
He said the government wants to expedite development work and is taking measures to improve the economic situation in this regard.
Mega-projects, including the Leh Expressway and Ring Road, will be launched in Rawalpindi. Murree Road’s beautification will be started soon, and millions of plants will be planted in the coming spring season, he said.
He said that in the next five years, Rawalpindi will look like a developed city. New parks will be built and existing parks will be improved.
When asked about encroachments, Mr Haq said the government has issued clear directions to remove encroachments from pavements and parks as well as government land, while the matter of illegal residential units and the local government will be resolved according to the rules set by the Supreme Court.
Mr Haq also visited the RDA on Saturday, where he chaired a meeting on projects to uplift the city. The meeting was attended by the RDA chairman, Director General Mohammad Hayat Lak, Metropolitan Planning and Traffic Engineering Director Jamshaid Aftab, Land Development and Estate Management Director Kinza Murtaza, Land Use and Building Control Director Ali Imran and others.
Mr Haq was briefed on projects such as the RDA Towers, the parking tower, the Nala Lai Express and the Ring Road project, as well as the Water and Sanitation Agency’s budget.
He directed the authorities to carry out tree plantations on vacant land, and urged RDA employees to work hard and honestly and apply to the Naya Pakistan Housing Programme.
Earlier on Saturday, Mr Haq visited Punjab House and the Governor’s Annexe regarding the establishment of a public sector university there. He was told that the two buildings were not in use because people preferred to stay in the Punjab House in Islamabad.
Mr Abbasi told Dawn there was a proposal to establish a university for the people so they could seek higher education without paying high fees.
He said the special assistant visited the sites to submit a report to Prime Minister Imran Khan, and he would announce a policy for the utilisation of the buildings.
Published in Dawn, January 6th, 2019