Islamabad              -             Confusion surrounds the conditions related to IMF loan programs as it doesn’t clarify whether Chinese loans can be obtained for Karachi to Peshawar Railway (ML-I) project or not.

In the IMF program there is ambiguity about loans and it is not clear whether loans can be obtained from China for $ 8.5 billion Karachi to Peshawar Railway project ML-I or not, said secretary Planning Zafar Hassan while briefing the National Assembly Standing Committee on Planning Development and Reforms.

While briefing the Sixth meeting of the Standing Committee on Planning Development and Reform was held under the Chairmanship MNA Junaid Akbar, Secretary Planning said that the PC-I for the ML-I project has been prepared and it will be presented in the next Joint Coordination Committee of CPEC. The secretary however said that ML-I cannot be started this year. The project will be completed in phases, he added.

Former Planning minister and MNA, Ahsan Iqbal, said that the annual allocation of Rs100 billion is required for the completion of ML-I project but the government has allocated only Rs16 billion in the PSDP. In the allocation of Rs16 billion ML-I cannot be started this year, he added.

Secretary planning briefed the committee over ML-I, PSDP and CPEC.

On the briefing about publication of new PSDP book by the Ministry after approval of budget; the Ministry informed that NEC is a constitutional body to consider the proposals submitted by the Ministry of PD & R and the PSDP recommended by NEC was placed in the National Assembly. While approving PSDP 2019-20, the NEC authorised MoPDR to make adjustments within the overall size of the PSDP. The Ministry informed the Committee that the changes in the PSDP by the Ministry were conveyed to the National Assembly. The Committee recommended to provide the letter containing details of changes in the PSDP to the National Assembly. However former Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal said that new projects cannot be added to the PSDP without the approval of the NEC.

The Ministry submitted the compliance report regarding the recommendations of the previous meeting but the committee was not satisfied by the briefing relating to agriculture. The Committee recommended that a comprehensive analysis on last three 5 years Plans may be submitted to the Committee in next meeting.  The Committee asked about completion of Narowal Sports City project, the Ministry submitted that all projects which are 80pc complete will be considered on priority basis.

The Committee raised the question regarding the non-completion of Narowal Sports City Project. The Committee recommended that the Narowal Sports City project may be completed on priority basis. The Ministry informed that projects that are 80pc complete are given priority. The Committee directed to submit reply about basis of approval and later on disapproval of Mansehra Airport project. While discussing the projects of CPEC Honorable Members raised concerns over exclusion of areas of FATA and Buner from CPEC projects and lack of PSDP projects in the said areas. The Committee recommended that the KPK Government may consider the matter.

The meeting was attended by Sher Akbar Khan, Saleh Muhammad, Shaukat Ali, Syed Faiz Ul Hassan, Nawab Sher, Dr. Seemi Bukhari, Muhammad Sajjad, Sardar Muhammad Irfan Dogar, Naveed Dero, Syed Agha Rafiullah, Abdul Shakoor and senior officers from the Ministry of Planning, Development & Reforms.