ISLAMABAD - Chairman National Highway Authority Jawad Rafique Malik is optimistic that the incumbent government would continue all the ongoing road infrastructure development projects included in Public Sector Development Programme related to the multibillion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor initiative.

An uncertainty regarding development projects executed by the NHA is being witnessed as the newly-formed government of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf has decided to scale down the federal development programme to about Rs775 billion from Rs1030 billion set in the budget 2018-19 to save about Rs250-255 billion or 25 per cent saving to the government.

However, the Chairman NHA while talking to The Nation claimed that the ongoing road infrastructure projects would be executed with same pace, especially the CPEC-related projects.

“Though the government has decided to reduce size of development budget, which would ultimately slash allocations for NHA, but one thing is quite clear that there is no threat to CPEC-related projects”, Malik said, adding “In addition to the timely completion of ongoing CPEC projects, the government also wants to build link roads to approach the routes of this important project.”

He said further that besides a reduction in development budget, the present government is committed to improve the road network in remote areas of the country.

The incumbent government apparently looks uninterested to prioritise transport and communication sector straight contrary to the previous government, which had allocated huge sums in PSDP for these projects.

The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government had allocated Rs911.263 billion for NHA during 2013-18 besides Rs88.537 billion in year 2013-14, Rs109.445 billion in year 2014-15, Rs177.866 billion in 2015-16, Rs209.675 billion in year 2016-17 and Rs325.720 billion in the fiscal year 2017-18.

Meanwhile, in the budget 2018-19, the previous government had also allocated Rs301.6 billion for the NHA including Rs236.475 billion for 43 ongoing schemes and Rs65.125 billion for 79 new schemes. However, the authority could not get its share in PSDP releases so far.

The circles concerned believe that the incumbent government would reduce allocations for the NHA in upcoming mini budget expected to be presented in National Assembly this week. However, the situation will become clear once the government would table money bill in the House.

It was earlier decided to present the revised Finance Bill in the National Assembly on last Friday but the same had been deferred due to the funeral of Begum Kulsoom Nawaz and now it would be tabled on Tuesday, September 18.