Kartarpur corridor project gets ex post facto approval

Updated March 17, 2020

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Modified cost at Rs16.5bn approved on an engineering, procurement and construction basis for phase-1. — AFP/File
Modified cost at Rs16.5bn approved on an engineering, procurement and construction basis for phase-1. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: The government on Monday approved six major development projects with a cumulative estimated cost of Rs100.68 billion, including ex post facto clearance of Rs16.5bn Kartarpur Corridor.

The projects were approved at a meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) presided over by Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh. The projects involve a foreign financing equivalent of about Rs44bn.

Ecnec approved the ‘Pakistan Raises Revenue Project’ at an estimated cost of Rs12.48bn with a foreign exchange component of $80 million. The project aims to eliminate the country’s fiscal constraints through a sustainable increase in revenues and reduced tax expenditure by broadening the tax base and modernising the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) with advanced ICT-based operations.

Ecnec green-lights six uplift projects of over Rs100bn

The project is part of the World Bank-funded international development assistance (IDA)-based soft loan amounting to $400m. It has two components — $320m for result-based disbursement linked indicators (DLI) financing and $80m for its traditional investment project financing (IPF). The project involves upgrade of connectivity of FBR offices through installation of ICT (information and communication technology) equipment and customs control posts for data sharing and communication.

The meeting also gave ex post facto approval to the development of Kartarpur Corridor on an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC)/turnkey basis for phase-1 of Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib, Narowal district, at a modified cost of Rs16.546bn.

Former planning and development minister Ahsan Iqbal raised questions over the ex post facto approval of such a large project being built without completion of codal formalities. He said he had been thrown into jail and National Accountability Bureau (NAB) registered cases for a Rs2.9bn project that was implemented after following all rules and regulations and approvals by the relevant forums and through bidding process.

“But here, a project has been implemented without approval of the CDWP (Central Development Working Party) and Ecnec and without bidding and yet ex post facto approvals are being granted. These are double standards,” he said and asked if NAB would now launch investigations against the incumbent planning minister or the finance minister.

Ecnec also approved the Winder Dam project at a cost of Rs15.231bn. It will be constructed on the Winder river in Lasbela district of Balochistan. The project was approved with a condition that command area development and land acquisition components would be started in parallel to the main project by the government of Balochistan.

The provincial government will also ensure completion of the project within the approved scope and cost. In case of further revision, the increase in cost will be borne by the provincial government from its own resources. It is expected to be completed in four years.

Ecnec approved a revised cost of Rs22.92bn for the Katchi Canal project (remaining work on phase-I) in Dera Bugti district of Balochistan. The meeting set a condition that there will be no deviation from the scope and cost firmed up by a follow-up committee constituted by the CDWP. A component of detailed engineering design, tender documents, etc, for phase-II and phase-III costing Rs120m has been added to the cost of the project.

The Balochistan agriculture department will ensure resolution of land settlement issues and development of command area of 102,000 acres to be developed by December. Responsibility of technical soundness of the design will rest with project consultants Nespak (National Engineering Services Pakistan) and no deviation from the design will be made. The project shall be completed in three years.

The meeting approved the Lahore Water and Wastewater Management project — sewerage system from Larech Colony to Gulshan-i-Ravi, Lahore — at a revised cost of Rs14.431bn. This includes a Rs14.165bn ($256m) loan from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

The project aims to develop a comprehensive and detailed design of the sanitation system for disposal of sewerage and wastewater from Larech Colony to Gulshan-i-Ravi through trenchless technology. The project intends to ensure efficiency in safe and quick disposal of sewage and wastewater by laying a trunk sewerage system and developing a comprehensive technically viable plan.

The meeting approved the construction of Eastern Wastewater Treatment plant (44MGD) of Faisalabad city (Phase-I) at a cost of Rs19.071bn. The foreign component of the project includes loan and grant from the government of Denmark amounting to Rs17.238bn – 35pc grant and 65pc loan.

The meeting set up a committee comprising Minister for Economic Affairs Hammad Azhar and the deputy chairman of Planning Commission to prepare a mechanism for disbursement of necessary aid in a fair and transparent manner where all the provinces have an equal chance of getting a fair share according to their developmental needs and priorities of the government.

Published in Dawn, March 17th, 2020