PESHAWAR/HARIPUR: Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that development budget of the merged tribal areas has been doubled since 2018, as uplift of those areas is among the priorities of his government.
The prime minister told the ruling party lawmakers at a meeting held at Governor House on Monday that the government increased the development budget from Rs24 billion in 2018 to Rs54bn this year.
Mr Khan expressed these views during his daylong visit to Peshawar where he addressed Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) members of the national and Pakhtunkhwa assemblies, according to a statement issued here.
In the meeting that lasted more than an hour, the premier said the development of merged areas was one of his government’s foremost priorities. He informed the party legislators that projects had already been identified for promotion of tourism in KP and that soon work for development of those tourist sites would be started.
Imran inaugurates Haripur special technology zone project
About increase in inflation in the country, Mr Khan said his government was taking steps to save public from its impact, explaining that the inflation had increased due to rising global prices of commodities. Counting the steps to mitigate its effect on public, he said the government introduced health cards and ration cards. He also termed an improvement in the education sector another ‘milestone’ of the government towards making the country a welfare state.
On the occasion, Mr Khan was also briefed about major ongoing projects of public welfare. The lawmakers shared with the premier the issues faced by public in their constituencies as well as party matters.
The premier was also apprised of the Rs20 billion plan to improve power supply in the province. He was informed about the strategy of off-grid solutions for provision of affordable electricity. In this regard, it was said, small micro-hydel projects were being initiated in areas far from transmission lines.
Mr Khan was briefed about progress on Chashma Right Bank Canal project, Rashakai industrial zone and special technology zones. He directed the officials concerned to ensure timely completion of the public importance projects.
The PM also held meetings with KP Governor Shah Farman and Chief Minister Mahmood Khan but the government shared little details, while the media was not allowed to cover the event.
Haripur STZ project
Later, the premier travelled to Haripur to inaugurate the Pakistan Digital City-Special Technology Zone (STZ) project, at Pak-Austria Institute of Applied Sciences at Mang. The digital city project spread over 86 kanals along Khanpur Road would be completed at a cost of Rs1.31bn.
In his speech at the inaugural ceremony, PM Khan said his government was investing in quality education, as the youth was a big resource and it would benefit society and the country.
The STZ was Pakistan’s first state-of-the-art IT-based project that would facilitate collaborations among the academia, researchers and the industry from within the country and abroad. Industries in the electronics sector, software houses, mobile phone, technology incubators, and computer manufacturing would be beneficiaries of the project.
The PM said that investment in quality education was imperative for producing productive manpower, but the three-tier education system introduced in the country left negative impact on the Pakistani society. “Nations are developed on the basis of common ideology. When there are three different ideologies working at the same time, cohesion in the education system and society cannot be achieved,” Mr Khan said.
The PTI government ventured to introduce a single curriculum across the country for the first time, he said, adding that most educational institutions and universities were not able to meet the changing requirements of the country’s job market. It was for this reason, he said, the ‘educated’ youth remained jobless. Even those holding PhD degrees were seen protesting for employment, he remarked.
The country was facing the challenge of unemployment due to shortage of ‘skilled manpower’, Mr Khan observed, mentioning that his government was focusing on providing ‘quality education’ to help future generations. Time would prove that digital projects such as the STZ would have far-reaching positive impact on the prosperity index of the country, he said.
During last one year only, the Pakistan’s IT-based export recorded 45pc growth rate, he said, adding that the government hoped that it would further increase to 75pc.
Also sharing the success story of record tax collection by the Federal Board of Revenue for the current fiscal year, the prime minister said the revenue earned through expanded tax collection would be spent on further improvement of education and health system.
The KP CM, federal and provincial ministers as well as lawmakers representing the area also attended the event.
Published in Dawn, January 18th, 2022