ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday formally launched the country’s first green Eurobond (Indus bond) floated by the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) to meet financial needs relating to the construction of Diamer-Bhasha and Mohmand dams.

Addressing the launching ceremony of the bond, the prime minister, however, agreed that like the previous governments, a lack of implementation of projects was also being observed in his own government.

“Unfortunately, one of Pakistan’s biggest weaknesses is the implementation of projects. In my government I am also seeing that some things lag behind when it comes to implementation,” he added. He, however, expressed satisfaction over the progress of work on the two dams.

Says his government planning to build 10 dams over next decade

PM Imran regretted that Pakistan’s potential had not been utilised. “When Shaukat Tarin and I were growing up in Pakistan, the country had a different status in the world. Our economy at one point was at the fourth spot in all of Asia,” he said.

Wapda has floated the bond for 10 years to raise $500 million at a competitive price of about 7.5 per cent interest rate.

Prime Minister Khan expressed satisfaction over the interest of leading international investors in Pakistan’s green Eurobond, saying it reflected their confidence in the government and Wapda.

He lauded Wapda for the fast pace of construction of dams which, he said, was vital to produce clean energy for green environment and save the coming generations.

The prime minister said there would have been no water shortage in the country had the “decade of dams” project initiated in 2018 been worked up five decades ago. “Ten dams to be built over the next 10 years will produce 10,000 megawatts of clean electricity. It is a step of thinking about our next generations,” he emphasised.

He stressed the need for a long-term planning instead of short-term election-to-election approach to carry out development projects in the country.

“We are progressing rapidly and a major part of that is due to the Planning Commission. Long-term planning is being done [...] they are thinking about future generations. And this is what builds the foundation of a great nation,” he said.

“A nation can’t progress if you carry out planning from one election to the next,” he said, adding that there was a need to invest in the country’s children and think about where the country was headed.

He said that after 1985 India started progressing rapidly and Bangladesh also managed to progress by implementing long-term planning.

The premier said his government was planning to build 10 dams over the next 10 years in an effort to produce clean energy. “Pakistan is vulnerable to climate change, and we need to think of our future generations.”

Highlighting the government’s 10 Billion Tree Tsunami Programme, Mr Khan said that one billion trees had been planted since 2018. “Nurseries have been created and we are hopeful that we will complete our goal by 2023,” he said, adding that this would also have an impact on people’s livelihoods and on tourism.

He said the government was also introducing a core syllabus for the education system to bring social cohesion. “We are also integrating madrassahs into the mainstream,” he said, adding that the government was focusing on wealth creation and industrialisation.

Wapda had last week floated the 10-year Indus bond to raise $500m, which attracted a number of international investors who offered investments worth $3 billion — six times more than its need.

“This kind of willingness shows the belief and confidence the international investors have in Wapda in particular and Pakistan in general,” Wapda Chairman retired Lt Gen Muzammil Hussain said. “This is unprecedented, as I have never seen such a favourable and congenial response for Wapda,” he added.

Out of nearly $2.2bn that Wapda needs over five years ($1.1bn in first two years), it is initially raising $500m through the Indus bond.

Published in Dawn, June 1st, 2021

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