ISLAMABAD: The Punjab government has sought exemption for execution of foreign-funded projects worth over a billion dollars, after the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had imposed a ban on announcement and execution of any development scheme in the province till election for the provincial assembly, informed sources told Dawn.
Just days after the restriction imposed on January 22, the local government ministry wrote to the chief secretary, requesting him to take up the matter of exemption in the execution of foreign-funded projects, an official said.
The foreign-funding projects for which exemption is being sought include World Bank-funded $553 million Punjab Rural Sustainable Water Supply and Sanitation Project and $236m Punjab Cities Programme, ADB-funded $250m Punjab Intermediate Cities Improvement Investment Project, $16.3m Project Readiness Financing for Punjab Urban Development Project and $22m Heritage Urban Regeneration in Lahore Fort project.
The ministry’s letter, a copy of which is available with Dawn, points out that projects implementation agencies were in the process of tender for and approval of new development sub-schemes, but the ministry had to halt the same. It quotes some project directors as saying that if the process was not timely completed, it would jeopardise the progress of the projects.
LG ministry writes to chief secretary to take up matter with election watchdog to avoid additional burden on government
“Furthermore, Punjab government will not be able to meet the commitments made with international donors, which will ultimately lead to financial burden on Punjab government in terms of commitment charges,” it explained.
The ministry in its letter then requested the chief secretary to approach the ECP for “seeking exemption in ban on execution of new development schemes under foreign-funded projects to meet the international commitments”.
Details of projects
The Punjab Intermediate Cities Improvement Investment Programme aims to improve the efficiency and financial sustainability of intermediate cities and effectiveness of urban services through water supply, sanitation, sewerage system, sewage treatment, solid waste management, transport infrastructure and upgrade of Punjab Local Government Academy, Lalamusa, and capacity development programme in Sahiwal, Sialkot, Sargodha, Bahawalpur, Rahim Yar Khan and Muzaffargarh with ADB assistance.
The objectives include improved access to clean water, installation of water reservoirs, water pipes, water metres, pressure gauges, boreholes, water transfer station, rehabilitation of tube wells, turbine pumps and motors, improved sanitation operations, installation of centralised sewerage treatment plant, rehabilitation of disposal station, replacement of sewer pipes, provision of missing equipment for sewage water management and unblocking of local drains, and improved access to urban public spaces and transport services.
The Project Readiness Financing will complement ADB’s assistance to the urban development, including a transaction technical assistance facility designed to support feasibility studies and explore innovations to improve the quality of urban services.
The PRF will finance the preparation of comprehensive spatial master plans for upstream project pipeline development, prepare detailed engineering designs, support procurement readiness, and prepare operational business plans for priority investments of the ensuing projects.
ADB’s value addition will include (i) institutional strengthening for improved urban and spatial planning systems through the identification of integrated smart solutions; (ii) prepare environmental assessments, land acquisition and resettlement plans, spatial plans, gender action plans with a special focus on gender equality, feasibility studies, DEDs, and procurement documents; and (iii) the incorporation of climate-resilient designs for priority investments.
The selected cities in Punjab province to benefit from the scheme include Bahawalpur, Dera Ghazi Khan, Multan, Muzaffargarh, Rahim Yar Khan, Rawalpindi, and Sargodha.
The Punjab Cities Programme’s objective is to improve economic potential, governance, management and service delivery in the selected cities of Punjab. The project covers Okara, Jaranwala, Gojra, Jhang, Kamalia, Muridke, Hafizabad, Kamoki, Daska, Wazirabad, Jhelum, Khanewal, Bahawalnagar and Kot Addu and some selected municipal committee areas except those falling under the Punjab Cities Governance Improvement Project and Punjab Intermediate Cities Improvement Investment Programme.
Published in Dawn, February 6th, 2023
Dear visitor, the comments section is undergoing an overhaul and will return soon.