A meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Planning, Development and Special Initiatives was held under the Chairmanship of Senator Saleem Mandviwallah at the Parliament House on Thursday. The Minister for Planning, Development & Special Initiatives, Asad Umer and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on CPEC Affairs, Khalid Mansoor also attended the meeting.
The Chairman Committee expressed his concern over the proposals and recommendations of the committee, on various Development Projects at Provincial and Federal Level which are not considered. The Chairman Committee re-iterated that the Senate recommendations and proposals should be considered otherwise is a futile exercise by the Committee.
The Minister informed the Chairman that the final approval of the PSDP Projects is given by the NEC. " The NEC approval is final", Asad Umer stated. The Minister informed the committee that 31st March next year is the last date for any Project to be taken to the NEC. The Chairman Committee gave directions that for the coming year the Committee will pre-plan the project required federally and provincially and send their final Proposals before February.
Senator Shafeeq Tareen expressed his concern on the approval process of Provincial Projects, which can only be approved if the Chief Minister gives it a go ahead. The Ministry informed the committee that the PSDP Projects are divided into 2 half’s. Federal Minister Execution projects and Provincial Minister Execution Project, the Minister informed the Committee that the Provincial Projects cannot be laid on our table, unless approved by the PDWP, to be further approved by the NEC.
Senator Muhammad Tahir Bizinjo, inquired about the status on N25, on which the Minister informed that the N25 has been, approved en route Karachi- Chaman. The SAPM informed the Committee that an overview committee on the Development Projects of Baluchistan, headed by MNA Khalid Magsi has been constituted and has representations of all Political Parties, to which Senator Shafiq Tareen disagreed. The Chairman Committee Sought list of the members of the over view committee.
While Briefing the committee on the financial and physical progress of all major CPEC projects, the committee was informed that Twenty-one (21) projects amounting to 15.7 $ Bn. are completed out of which are Ten (10) power projects (5,320 MW) & HVDC transmission Line amounting to 9.6 $ Bn. Five (05) Infrastructure (Roads, Mass Transit & Optical Fiber amounting to 5.8 $ Bn. Two (02) Gwadar Port/ Free Zone and City Master Plan amounting to 0.3 $ Bn. And Four (04) Social Economic Development amounting to $ 0.014 Bn.
Thirty-one (31) projects amounting to 9.3 Bn $ are under-implementation and thirty-six (36) projects amounting to 28.4 Bn. $ are under consideration.
While discussing the under implementation Projects of Gwadar “Necessary Facilities of Fresh Water Treatment and Supply”, financed through the PSDP Costing to 130 USD Million is 60% completed. Pak China Friendship Hospital at Gwadar and Technical and Vocational Institute at Gwadar financed by GRANT is 90 % and 10 % completed respectively.
While discussing the under-consideration Projects of $ 28.4 Bn., Senator Sardar Shafiq Tareen said that coal resources of Balochistan should also be utilized for Power Plants, to which the SAPM on CPEC affairs replied that coal from Balochistan is rich in Sulphur therefore it is not feasible. Commenting on Bostan Economic Zone, Senator Sardar Shafiq showed resentment that despite being the only zone of the Province and very important on account of its location being very near to Chaman, Bostan Zone is ignored and there is nothing done which can be seen on ground. The SAMP on CPEC affairs replied that they have coordinated with Chief Secretary Balochistan in this regard and progress could be seen. Senator Sardar Shafiq Tareen also raised the issue of construction of new bye pass to be built on Muslimbagh on Kuchlak to Zhob road. He also pointed out that construction of Muslimbagh to Zhob road has not been started as yet, on which the SAMP replied that case is subjudice. Raising questions on railway project, Senator Sardar Shafiq Tareen commented that Quetta-Zhob-Kotla Jaam railway line is too short and must be prioritized. The Chairman Committee also recommended prioritizing this project. The SAMP on CPEC affairs informed the committee that all the under-consideration projects are at initial stage. The Chairman Committee sought report on the so far Progress of these projects and reason obstructing their implementation.
The SAPM on CPEC affairs briefed the committee on the issues faced by the investors in terms of compliance with Investment and Agreement of CPEC – Phase 1 Power Projects including payment of IPPs, long outstanding over dues, establishment of revolving account and WHT on sponsors’ dividends increased post investment to 25 % from 7.5 %. The SAPM apprised the committee that they plan to set up a “Investment Facilitation Center” to offer “One Window Operation to all Chinese Investors. The Chairman Committee recommended that the SEZ ACT 2012 should be amended in order to facilitate the investors. The committee was also informed that Gwadar deep seaport being strategically located has potential to become Regional Trading Hub and Investment and Marketing Plan to enhance port operations and popular Gwadar Free zone is currently under development in close coordination with China Overseas Port Holding Company COPHL.
The meeting was attended by Senator Denesh Kumar, Muhammad TAhir Bizinjo, Sardar Muhammad Shafooq Tareen, HidayatUllah and Senator Palwasha Khan. Asad Umer and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on CPEC Affairs, Khalid Mansoor along with officials of the Ministry of Planning Development and Special Initiatives also attended the meeting.