Chaudhry Ahsan Premee
Associated Press Service
ISLAMABAD:Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif visited the Planning Division today. The Prime Minister was received by Mr. Ahsan Iqbal, Minister for Planning, Development & Reform and officials of the Ministry.
Minister for Planning briefed the Prime Minister on the status of projects under China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and development projects under the current PSDP. The Planning Minister said that, unlike the previous governments, the allocation for PSDP has been increased significantly and monitoring mechanism is made effective to accrue the benefits of infrastructure development in the short as well as long term.
Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif approved the proposed reforms for timely completion of the development projects including creation of Project Management Units (PMUs) in key Ministries undertaking these projects. The Prime Minister directed for effective monitoring and evaluation of the required allocations against the release of funds by the Ministry of Finance to gauge the actual progress on the ground and fix the responsibility of delay, if any, on the executing Ministries and departments. The Prime Minister also directed that he should be kept updated on the execution of projects under the PSDP on weekly basis and made it specifically clear that he would not compromise on the completion timelines of the projects. Federal Minister for Finance briefed the meeting on the revenue cycle of PSDP releases. The Prime Minister directed for timely releases of allocations for Power and Communication Sectors. Minister for Planning Development and Reform informed the Meeting that for the first time in several years, there is no lack in releases to the Provinces under the PSDP in terms of gap. The Provincial government of Balochistan has expressed its gratitude for release of allocations without any gap for the last two years, the Minister informed.
The Prime Minister said that the development agenda of the present government will revolutionise the lives of the people of Pakistan as we are determined to deliver and serve the people. Ministries and Divisions need to ensure utmost transparency in the execution of the development projects and enhance their capacities to realise the development agenda of the government. The Prime Minister said that the Ministries should be accountable for timely and cost efficient execution of development projects and he will personally monitor the performance of the Ministries on monthly basis. The Prime Minister issued directions for revision of Management Professional Pay Scales in terms of high salary incentives and allowing civil servants to compete for positions with other management professionals. The Prime Minister also directed for creating separate Management Professional Scale with high salary incentives for heads of development projects worth more than Rs.20 Billion. The civil servants will also be eligible for this separate scale along with other talented management professionals from the private sector through a transparent procedure for recruitment. Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform should use all the resources at its disposal to achieve the goals and targets of SDGs and Vision 2025, the Prime Minister emphasized.
Lauding the Chinese support in the shape of CPEC, the Prime Minister said that the people and government of Pakistan are extremely grateful to the Chinese leadership. It is a huge gesture that China is initiating numerous projects and funding development units across the country on its own. “Without China’s support, we could not have initiated energy projects; what we need at the moment is to remove the bottlenecks and spend our public sector resources efficiently”, the Prime Minister emphasized. The Prime Minister directed to limit the projects under the PSDP to the spending capacity of the government and devise a mechanism for holding the Ministries and Divisions answerable for their performance by today, positively. ‘The allocations for projects which are cost intensive should be made after a thorough deliberation and their progress must be reviewed continuously’, the Prime Minister stressed. We are facing acute shortage of electricity; we must give priority to meet our electricity requirements simultaneously with the long term development agenda, the Prime Minister added.
The Planning Minister also briefed the Prime Minister on the proposed allocations for the PSDP 2016-17 and said that the Estimates under the next PSDP have been made to accomplish the development agenda of the present government. The Minister proposed to enhance the allocations for the next year PSDP appropriately to accommodate Government’s initiatives, undertake projects on EPC mode, and completion of the CPEC and Energy projects on time.
Chairman National Highway Authority (NHA) briefed the Prime Minister on the pace of the ongoing as well as future projects of road networks across different parts of the country and said that the portfolio of the National Highway Authority has significantly been raised from Rs-45 Billion to Rs-750 Billion for the first time in the history of the country. Appreciating the speedy and cost effective work being done by NHA, the Prime Minister directed for completing all Motorway projects within the next two years. Chairman NHA apprised the Prime Minister that work on the road projects under the Western Corridor of the CPEC and long neglected dualization of the Peshawar-D.I. Khan Section of the Indus Highway is being carried simultaneously with completion of the Motorways from Peshawar to Karachi. The Prime Minister said that completion of communication networks under the Western Corridor of the CPEC is a priority and will be completed before June, 2018.
Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif said that the present government has successively been increasing budgetary allocations for the development projects that have been doubled during the last three years. There must be no compromise on transparency and cost effectiveness in the execution of these development projects, the Prime Minister stated. There is a positive and significant correlation between investment in infrastructure and economic development. Investment on development projects will increase the quality of life of our citizens and will also generate employment opportunities for our youth, the Prime Minister underlined. Pakistan’s economic turnaround has started. This process is irreversible and will make Pakistan as Asian Tiger, the Prime Minister concluded.
Minister for Finance Mr. Muhammad Ishaq Dar, Capt. (Retd) Muhammad Safdar (MNA), Senator Saud Majeed and other senior officials of the government were also present during the meeting.