ISLAMABAD       -    The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) has approved 13 development projects, which are related to water, power, health, education and infrastructure.

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance Abdul Hafeez Sheikh chaired the meeting of the ECNEC. ECNEC approved “Dasu hydropower project (stage 1) Revision of cost for land acquisition and built up of property”, subject to opinion of the Law Ministry on the revision of cost of land and built up property after imposition of section 4 of Land acquisition Act of 1894. The chair also directed that the Ministry of Law may be requested to give its opinion in a week’s time to save the project from further delay. The project is financed by World Bank and WAPDA and is designed to provide 4,320 MW of electricity in two stages.

ECNEC also approved the project for the evacuation of power from 2,160 MW Dasu HPP stage 1, Dasu to Islamabad via Mansehra at a revised cost of 90831.69 million with FEC of Rs. 79,584.20 million. The changes in the cost of the project occurred due to changes in the exchange rate, it was briefed to the meeting. The chair, observing that cost revision due to exchange rate fluctuation has become a regular exercise at ECNEC, directed Ministry of Planning to devise a mechanism to incorporate the exchange rate fluctuations in the cost of the project.

ECNEC also considered and approved the “Engineering Procurement and Construction of Balakot Hydropower project, Manshera Khyber Pakhtunkhwa at the updated cost of 85,912.926 million with the FEC of Rs.35,049.714 million. The project will be sponsored and executed by Energy and Power Department, Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The financing for the project shall be from Asian Development Bank (80%) and (20%) from annual development program of government of KP. The chair also directed to form a committee to look into the matter of filing a petition to NEPRA for reference tariff for public sector power projects at EPC as well as COD stage. Minister for Planning, members from NEPRA, Secretary Power Division, and Secretary Planning KP shall be members of this committee.

While reviewing the “500 kV HVDC Transmission System between Tajikistan and Pakistan for Central Asia- South Asia transmission interconnection (CASA1000) Modified”, the chair directed that the project may be brought back to the next meeting of the ECNEC by the Ministry of Planning, Development and Reforms after another round of consultation with the project stakeholders after detailed discussion on export of energy as well to ensure its viability

ECNEC also approved two power projects on the same observations; “the 1,223 MW(Gross) combined cycle Power Plant Balloki, District Kasur” and “1230MW (Gross)Combined Cycle power plant at Haveli Bahadur Shah, District Jhang( 2nd revised PC1)”. ECNEC had the following observations for both the projects:

Construction of Housing complex and allied facilities may be allowed at a rate of Rs.5000/sq ft already permitted by NEPRA as an ex-post facto case. Sponsors should justify land acquisition for Housing Complex without prior approval of ECNEC and award design work to Consultants. This approval would in no way constitute endorsement of the fiduciary/management decisions of NPPMCL board regarding internal cost adjustments/ re-appropriation within the approved PC 1, as these are not in the ambit of CDWP/ ECNEC and are the responsibility of the board / PAO

ECNEC also approved the 220kV Head Faqirian Grid Station Along with 220 kV double Circuit Transmission line from Head Faqirian to Ludewala at an updated cost of Rs.5812.08 million including FEC of Rs.2991.42 million. The chair also directed the Planning Commission to undertake an exercise of project evaluation before bringing the projects to ECNEC, Dr.Ishart Hussain shall lead the exercise for the evaluation of the projects.

ECNEC also approved Extension of Intensive Care Department of Mother-Child Health Centre and children hospital at Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) at an updated cost of Rs.4,270.588 million with FEC of 3,874.138 million (FEC: Japanese Yen: 3620.296 million as foreign aid from the government of Japan through JICA).

ECNEC approved Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Integrated Tourism Development Project at the cost of 17,000 million rupees. (World Bank Loan Rs.14,000 million and government of KP contribution 3,000 million). The project aims at development of tourism at KP for economic growth, employment and revenue generation, progress of local communities, construction of roads and creating enabling environment for private sector operations. The project will be completed by the end of financial year 2022-2023; the World Bank loan will be repaid by government of KP.

For the “Establishment and Operation of Basic Education, Community Schools in the country”, ECNEC approved a revised cost of Rs.4,629.742 million subject to the condition that honoraria to remaining BECS teachers with pending verifications may be made as per the ECNEC decision of January 9, 2019. The ECNEC also gave prior approval for paying off major cost of this project till December 2019 with the instructions to devise a mechanism for facilitating the process of transition of this project to the provincial governments. The Ministry of Inter Provincial Coordination, Secretary Ministry of Federal Education & Professional Training, Secretaries of Provincial educational departments, Secretary Finance and Secretary Planning and Development with Adviser to Prime Minister on Institutional Reforms, Dr. Ishrat Hussain shall devise a plan for the smooth transition of this programme from the federal government to the provincial governments, as education is a devolved subject to be looked after by the provinces.

ECNEC approved the establishment of Pakistan Space Centre at Chakkri, Rawalpindi District at an updated cost of Rs.29,506.233 million including FEC of Rs.22,095.67 million.

The Dualization of Kuchlak-Zhob section of N-50 (305 km) was also approved by ECNEC at a rationalized cost of 63,601.56 million without FEC. The road section is located in province of Balochistan.

The Competitive and Livable City of Karachi Project (CLICK) with the sponsorship of government of Sindh and World Bank/IPF-IBRD was also approved at a total cost of Rs. 33,600 million including World Bank loan of 32,200 million. It is estimated that the project will be completed by June 2024.

The meeting was attended by Federal Minister for planning Development and Reforms, Minister for Finance KP, Chairperson P&D Board Sindh and adviser to PM on Institutional Reforms and Austerity and other senior officials of Federal and provincial governments.