ISLAMABAD: The government on Wednesday decided to announce soon a major economic package for Gilgit-Baltistan as promised before regional elections in November last year.
In a meeting with the newly-elected leadership of Gilgit-Baltistan, the ministry of planning and development constituted two technical groups to finalise the integrated development plan on the pattern of the recently announced Karachi Transformation Plan.
GB Chief Minister Khalid Khurshid and Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar jointly presided over the meeting.
The meeting decided to constitute technical working groups comprising relevant chiefs of ministry of planning and development and officers of GB. An apex committee under the GB chief minister and an inter-ministerial committee under deputy chairman of the Planning Commission would monitor the preparation and implementation of the development plan.
Both the committees will hold a follow-up meeting in next 15 days and shortlist the most important areas for inclusion in the GB integrated development plan. The committees would work together to identify potential projects in the public sector, as well as in the public-private partnership mode.
An official statement quoted Mr Asad Umar as saying that the development needs of Gilgit-Baltistan had been neglected for a long time, but the current federal government and GB administration would jointly formulate and announce an integrated development plan for the people of the region.
The minister directed that the requisite approval of all the projects to be included in the integrated plan should be obtained from the relevant forum before the next budget cycle so they could be included in the Public Sector Development Programme, 2021-22.
The GB chief minister said the initiative taken by the federal government was the first of its kind and it would greatly benefit the people of area. He said all the potential sectors should be included in this development package and it should be ensured that all projects start in time and are completed on time.
Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission Jehanzeb Khan said there were a lot of opportunities for the federal government’s intervention for the development of GB, but the development of hydropower, construction of airport and improvement of regional networking would be taken as top priority projects.
Planning Secretary Mathar Niaz Rana presented the broad contours of the GB Development Plan and potential prioritised projects to be included in it by adopting an integrated regional development approach. It was reported that the GB Development Package would be a continuation of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s development initiatives.
Published in Dawn, January 14th, 2021