Minister says work on Karachi plan should start without delay

Published September 10, 2020
Talking about his ministry, Umar said: “We have started our work from the first day after the agreement and have set weekly deadlines.” — Photo by Sameen Daud Khan/File
Talking about his ministry, Umar said: “We have started our work from the first day after the agreement and have set weekly deadlines.” — Photo by Sameen Daud Khan/File

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar on Wednesday asked the Sindh government to submit an updated feasibility of Greater Karachi Water Supply Project (K-IV) immediately to move forward as the ongoing exchange of barbs and blame game would only lead the people of Karachi to thrash both the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI).

“This politics will not work, these dramas, press conferences, and counter press conferences; if both PTI and PPP will continue like this, the people of Karachi are going to hurl shoes at both of us,” he said while talking to journalists on the sidelines of a parliamentary committee meeting.

Asad Umar argued that the most important thing was to start work on the ground in Karachi. He downplayed the controversy over which government had allocated how much money for KTP and to drive home this point further inferred that even if he was willing to accept that Sindh government had contributed Rs750bn, the crucial point was to move on and start work without further delay.

Earlier, the Ministry of Planning had through a press release given the breakdown of funds allocated by the federal government for KTP. According to the press release, the total funds to be arranged by the federal government is Rs611bn. Rs375bn is showed as provincial government responsibility, according to the press release.

Talking about his ministry, Mr Umar said: “We have started our work from the first day after the agreement and have set weekly deadlines.”

Asad asks CM Shah to submit updated feasibility report of K-IV project

Responding to a question that most of the major schemes recently announced for Karachi were old and ongoing projects, the minister said: “Let’s go to Karachi and show me KCR, Green Line, K-IV etc on the ground, show me these projects if they are old ones.”

Read: Centre, Sindh claim control over Rs300bn KCR

He said he had been told that they were failed projects but he argued that the federal government was ready to take responsibility of K-IV or whichever was a failed project.

In reply to another question, the minister said Pakistan was waiting to hear from China on the dates for the upcoming joint cooperation committee (JCC) of the CPEC. “We have received positive response from China on JCC and ML-I (main railway line from Karachi to Peshawar) financing. He said work on the new financial structure of ML-I would start soon, as the new financial structure would be different from the previous one.

Separately, the federal minister in a letter to Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah recalled that it was decided during recent meetings that Centre would take responsibility to implement the Greater Karachi Water Supply Scheme (K-IV). “In order to enable the Federal Government to carry out this obligation, I would request you to kindly direct the relevant departments to complete the revision/ modification of the PC-I, on a fast track basis, in the light of the recent decisions and submit the same to the Planning Commission for final approval”.

He said the federal government was keen to start implementation of the K-IV as well as the other projects included in the federal portfolio at the earliest and would be working closely with the provincial authorities to make sure that the projects were implemented smoothly and expeditiously. “Development of Karachi as a modern metropolis is our shared objective and I look forward to working together to achieve it,” Mr Umar wrote to CM Shah.

Earlier, the NA Standing Committee on Planning, Development and Special Initiatives, presided over by MNA Junaid Akbar, took up the government-sponsored “Public-Private Partnership Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2020”. The chief executive officer of PPPA briefed the committee about the bill that unanimously decided to defer it till next meeting for want of more justifications.

During the meeting pointing towards Mr Umar, former planning minister in the PML-N government Ahsan Iqbal said there was need to see how many projects had been executed by the previous planning minister and how many by the incumbent planning minister who was also MNA from the federal capital. “A minister who cannot do anything for his constituency, how he will help this committee,” he remarked.

The PML-N lawmaker said the authorities must learn from the Neelum-Jhelum project whose cost escalated from Rs80 billion to Rs500bn so that same mistakes must not be repeated in the execution of Basha dam project implementation without financial close.

The committee also discussed “The General Statistics (reorganization) (Amendment) Bill 2019”, which was moved by MNA Amjad Ali Khan, but later deferred it for next meeting.

The committee directed that at the time of preparation of Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) the neglected areas must be considered on priority.

The committee recommended to enhance 10pc budget of Higher Education Commission (HEC) so that it could fulfil its requirements/projects in current financial year. It directed the planning ministry to review and revise the pay scale of MP-I so that the intellectual and efficient people could be attracted towards these jobs. However, the committee also expressed concern that some of the projects for which funds had been released in 2018-19 could not be completed so far. It directed the HEC to visit the University of Malakand and submit a detailed report within a week.

The committee decided to hold its next meeting on the problems of earthquake victims in Abbottabad. Therefore, it invited all the legislators from Abbottabad district as special invitees to the meeting for getting their opinion in this regard under Rule 227 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the National Assembly, 2007.

Note: The story has been slightly amended on web to provide context to the Planning Minister’s comments.

Published in Dawn, September 10th, 2020


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