ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has allowed Sindh to continue with projects to build two million houses swept away by floods and install solar panels at 2.1 million houses to rid them of frequent load-shedding and exorbitant electricity bills.
“There is no ban on the World Bank assisted projects which are ongoing and are under execution in various stages … There is no ban on Sindh Solar Energy Project, which was approved on 14th November, 2018, by Ecnec.
“There is no ban on Sindh Flood Emergency Housing Reconstruction Project, which was approved by the Ecnec in January, 2023, and under these projects multiple activities are currently being carried out in phases. There is no ban on other foreign-funded projects like World Bank, USAID or any other development partners’ project including Multilateral Banks ADB, AllB etc. which are duly approved by the competent forum,” the ECP clarified in a letter written to the Sindh chief secretary, a copy of which is available with Dawn.
“It is expected that after this clarification there remains no ambiguity as far as the execution of the development projects is concerned. However, in case of any question, the Sindh government may approach the Election Commission of Pakistan any time,” the letter issued with the signatures of the ECP Secretary Omar Hamid Khan read.
Says no ban on World Bank-assisted projects being executed in province
Earlier this month, while terming the ECP’s decision to freeze all development funds, including that for Peoples Housing Scheme in Sindh illegal, unconstitutional and anti-people, PPP had asked the ECP to immediately unfreeze funds for the project.
“Orders of the Election Commission of Pakistan to freeze development funds in the province of Sindh, including those allocated in the provincial budget for providing flood-resistant houses to families devastated in last year’s floods and for solar panels to provide relief to the poorest of the families from hours of load-shedding and exorbitant electricity bills are shocking to say the least,” in-charge of PPP election cell Senator Taj Haider said in a letter written to Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja.
He said that during the discussions on amending Section 230 of the Election Act, 2017, by the parliamentary committee on electoral reforms, both the secretary and special secretary of the ECP were present as witnesses. During those discussions, the committee members had unanimously agreed that caretaker governments should not have the authority to obstruct or modify policies or halt ongoing development projects in Sindh.
Mr Haider recalled that he had voiced serious concern during this discussion that the caretaker administration might potentially impede the progress of the two initiatives designed to aid families in distress.
“Little did I suspect that while we were stopping the caretakers, it would be the honourable ECP itself who would take this illegal, unconstitutional and anti-people step,” he wrote.
The PPP leader said a technical and financial model based on the concept of reconstruction of Germany after World War II had been designed and was being implemented for reconstruction of two million houses swept away by floods in Sindh.
Published in Dawn, September 20th, 2023