ISLAMABAD: Planning Minister Asad Umar on Thursday held separate meetings with key economic ministries to improve the pace of work between project conception and implementation while directing officials to expedite work on groundbreaking of special economic zones (SEZs), one of them before Dec 31.
He said this while reviewing progress on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) funded projects on Thursday.
A senior official told Dawn that the newly-appointed minister sought to have separate meetings with ministers and top authorities of the power, energy and petroleum sectors to understand how they saw the projects, how much sectoral or market research they conducted to reach conclusions and develop their concept papers.
The process should lead to better prioritisation of projects before submitting them to the Planning Commission for approvals and funding allocations. The minister also ordered a business study on how to maximise job creation through local private sector participation in businesses.
Work to start with Faisalabad, followed by Rashakai and Dhabeji
The idea was that instead of looking at just Chinese investment, plans should be prepared to involve investors from wherever possible to the SEZs including creation of business opportunities for the locals also through business-to-business collaboration to generate maximum jobs, the official added.
The minister appreciated the progress on development of three SEZs and observed that sufficient progress had been achieved on the Faisalabad zone, known as Allama Iqbal Industrial City (M3). Therefore, the ground-breaking of the first zone under the CPEC at Faisalabad will be ensured before the end of the calendar year.
He directed that necessary work be expedited to achieve ground-breaking of Rashakai and Dhabeji SEZs within the current financial year. He noted that the Dhabeji SEZ was also being developed on fast-track basis and hopefully it would come online shortly after Faisalabad.
The representatives of Ministries of Petroleum and Power assured the minister that they would expedite electricity and gas supply for the projects.
While reviewing the PSDP-funded projects, the minister noted that the fund release mechanism had been made much easier in recent months and the ministries concerned could enjoy greater independence in spending their development budgets.
He asked the ministries to use this opportunity coming out of revised disbursement mechanism and complete their projects within the due time. An official statement said the minister emphasised effective monitoring and evaluation of the projects to ensure their smooth and timely implementation.
He also directed the concerned officials to ensure greater focus on identifying innovative funding mechanisms to finance infrastructure projects and attract private sector participation in public sector projects.
The minister was also given a briefing on the completed and ongoing projects in pipeline under the CPEC. The minister expressed satisfaction on progress of various under construction projects.
He emphasised that in the next phase of CPEC, the focus would be on enhancing economic cooperation whereby business linkages and value chains would be developed, benefiting both sides.
Published in Dawn, November 29th, 2019