• Hints at extending health insurance scheme to province
• Launches work on three road projects
QUETTA: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday said his government was keen to bring about a revolution in Balochistan through projects of infrastructure and human development.
The federal government would discuss the expansion of health insurance, similar to those introduced in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab and Gilgit-Baltistan, with the coalition government of Balochistan, said the prime minister after his arrival in Quetta on a daylong visit.
While speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony of three road projects — 162km Ziarat-Harnai road, 11km Dera Murad Jamali Bypass (N-65) and 23km dualisation of Quetta Western Bypass (N-25) — under the National Highway Authority (NHA), Mr Khan said the federal government despite financial constraints was committed to diverting funds towards the development of Balochistan.
The prime minister said that had serious steps been taken in the past, the country would have undergone immense development. The province had been long neglected but the government would take every step to minimise the suffering of locals, he vowed.
Comparing with the 1,100km roads built by the previous governments in 15 years, Mr Khan said his government completed 3,300km road infrastructure within two-and-a-half years. He said the entire area along the western route of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor would be developed.
He said the ruling elite was responsible for the economic divide in society and highlighted the need for following the development-for-all model. Caring for humanity was the driving force that placed the nation at high pedestal of morality, he explained, adding that Balochistan suffered apathy of previous rulers who had the mindset to ignore the province.
However, he said, his ideology was about making the country rise by uplifting weaker segments of society. Pakistan could learn from the China’s model of development and its strategy to bring people out of poverty, he said.
He said the project of provision of direct subsidy to farmers on seeds and fertilizer under Kissan card had been launched, while 80 per cent data of deserving families had been registered for Ehsaas socio-welfare programme.
Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan Alyani highlighted the importance of improved connectivity of Quetta with Naseerabad and Sibi through road dualisation to support farmers and traders from adjoining areas. He said the construction of roads and dams would ensure the development of militancy-hit areas that had long witnessed unrest and suffering. He said the provincial government was spending Rs35 billion out of its own resources for the development of Balochistan besides the Rs20 billion allocated by the federal government.
Minister for Communication Murad Saeed also spoke on the occasion.
Meanwhile, the prime minister was given a briefing on Balochistan’s overall situation and development projects at a meeting, which was also attended by federal ministers Asad Umar, Murad Saeed and Zubaida Jalal, Balochistan Governor Justice Amanullah Khan, CM Alyani and his cabinet members.
Briefing on socio-economic uplift
The meeting was briefed on the coronavirus situation, availability of essential items at affordable prices in Ramazan, capacity building of law enforcement agencies, provision of funds for the completion of uplift projects, setting up of border markets along the Pak-Iran border, utilisation of energy resources and recommendations for agricultural development and opportunities of socio-economic uplift.
While presiding over the meeting, Mr Khan said the federal government was making all-out efforts for the progress and prosperity of the people of Balochistan on a priority basis. He appreciated the proposals regarding the law and order, economic development and directed relevant federal institutions to finalise the recommendations and proposals of the provincial government.
Youth urged to tap potential in fisheries sector
The prime minister also addressed the soft-loan-distribution ceremony held under the Kamyab Jawan programme. He said the government would support the youth through proper training in fisheries and help them run their own businesses, as the coastal areas of Balochistan offered immense potential in fisheries and asked the local youth to learn techniques to fully tap the opportunities for revenue generation.
He expressed satisfaction over the allocation of Rs10 billion for the small business and skill development of the people of Balochistan.
He proposed that learning of cage fishing technique as an aquaculture fish production system could prove beneficial for the poor fishermen who were struggling to meet their ends. He said big cartels in fishery sectors were an impediment in removing the poverty of fishermen.
Mr Khan said promotion of fisheries sector would help uplift the youth of Balochistan and would ultimately benefit Pakistan.
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leader Mohammad Usman Dar, who is leading the Kamyab Jawan project, said loans amounting to Rs8 billion had been disbursed among 10,000 youth which had helped create around 70,000 employment opportunities.
He said in line with the PM’s directions, at least Rs5 billion would be distributed among the youth of Balochistan by this year end for supporting them in setting up their own businesses.
Earlier, the prime minister gave away cheques for soft loan to the successful applicants of Youth Entrepreneurship Scheme (YES) from Balochistan.
The programme was launched in October 2019 under the banner of Kamyab Jawan Programme to provide the youth soft loans for initiation of their own businesses. Recently, the government enhanced the scope of YES, which was meant to offer huge amount of concessionary loans ranging between Rs100,000 and Rs25 million to the youth. Earlier, it was limited to Rs5 million only.
According to the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), the financing under YES has been segregated into three tiers. Under tier-1, loan limit is from Rs100,000 up to Rs1 million, whereas tier-2’s loan limit is between Rs1m and Rs10m and the tier-3’s loan limit is from above Rs10m up to Rs25m. For tier 1, 2 and 3 loans, the mark up rates are 3, 4 and 5 per cent.
Published in Dawn, April 29th, 2021