Govt to use ‘eyes in the sky’ to track sluggish projects

Published February 22, 2022
A meeting of the National Coordination Committee on Monday. — PID
A meeting of the National Coordination Committee on Monday. — PID

ISLAMABAD: In a bid to speed up work on sluggish foreign-funded development projects in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, the federal government has decided to keep a physical check on their progress through satellite-based monitoring.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the National Coordination Committee (NCC), which had taken up the issue of foreign-funded projects (FFPs) being implemented by the governments of both provinces.

The meeting was chaired by Economic Affairs Minister Omar Ayub Khan and attended by KP Chief Minister Mahmood Khan, among others.

The minister told the participants that a “triad” or three-pronged approach would be adopted to monitor these projects, which would entail physical progress verification through the Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission’s (Suparco) satellites, financial tracking and prioritisation of fast-moving projects over slow-moving ones, and the use of Gantt charts to track project timelines and ensure timely completion of key goals.

Of 34 foreign-funded schemes in KP, three are ‘problematic’ and seven ‘partially satisfactory’

He hoped the measures would help make projects’ monitoring more efficient and thus ensure smooth implementation.

The economic affairs secretary told the NCC that 34 foreign-funded projects were under implementation by the KP government for which the Asian Development Bank (ADB), European Union, World Bank, China, France, Germany, Japan, Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom and the United States had provided $3.651bn.

The meeting noted that NCP’s efforts had helped improve projects’ implementation by the provincial government, as the number of problematic projects had dropped to three from six a year ago. Similarly, the number of “partially satisfactory” projects had also come down from 11 to seven.

It was decided that the remaining projects would also be closely monitored in line with their set timelines and all impediments would be removed.

While reviewing the ADB-funded Access to Clean Energy Investment Programme, the KP government reported that out of the 8,000 schools, solar facilities had been installed in 5,946 schools. The remaining schools will be completed by the end of June.

Similarly, 53 health units had been solarised, whereas contracts for the remaining 134 health units had been awarded and work was under progress.

Under the micro-hydropower plant (MHPP) component, 287 MHPPs have been installed while installation for the remaining 411 is under way.

The committee also reviewed the progress on Pehur high-level canal extension project, for which the ADB has committed $86.41 million.

The project — which will benefit 75,000 people after completion — aims to develop a new irrigated area of over 8,727 hectares (around 21565 acres) in Swabi and Nowshera districts located in the middle-east of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, in which water resources for agricultural production were currently dependent on rainfall only.

The committee also reviewed the progress of foreign-funded projects by Balochistan’s government. The meeting was informed that 12 foreign-funded projects amounting to $509m were currently under implementation in the province. Of them, two were problematic and four projects were partially satisfactory.

The committee especially focused on the problematic projects — the ADB-funded Balochistan Water Resources Development Project worth $102m, and the World Bank-funded Balochistan Water Management and Community Support Project worth $110m.

The meeting directed the officials concerned to resolve all the bottlenecks and speed up work on these projects.

Published in Dawn, February 22nd, 2022

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