LAHORE - The Punjab government has forwarded the Asian Development Bank-funded Punjab Intermediate Cities Improvement Investment Programme (PICIIP) worth $ 600 million to the Punjab chief minister for final nod, it has been learnt.

As per the summary forwarded to the Punjab CM office, the Punjab government envisions intermediate cities with sustainable infrastructure and connectivity for the faster economic growth, higher productivity with opportunity for inclusive growth and sustained quality of life for its citizens.

The PICIIP, a mufti-tranche facility, $ 500 million ADB Loan and $100 million Punjab government component, will be implemented during a period of 10 years. It aims to improve the efficiency and financial sustainability of cities and effectiveness of urban services including water supply, waste water treatment, solid waste management, transport infrastructure and up-gradation of Punjab Local Government Academy at Lalamusa.

The CDWP approved the project title “Technical Assistance for Multi-Tranche Financing Facility (MFF) for Punjab Cities Improvement Investment Plan (PC-Il)” at a total cost of Rs 88.157 million with the direction to conduct studies of two to three intermediate cities.

The PDWP approved the PC-I for the establishment of PMU last year at a total cost of Rs 189 million against the Department’s proposal of Rs 302 million while administrative approval of the PC-IT for the establishment of PMU, PICIIP has already been issued by the LG&CD Department.

The PICIIP will be executed by the LG&CD Department through a Program Management Unit (PMU) and City Implementation Units (CIUs) of the concerned TMAs.

Moreover, official sources told that the programme was approved by the Punjab Chief Minister June 2010 for 11 Intermediate Cities. All cities with population ranging between 250,000 and one million of the Province were to be included in the project. Sialkot was to be the first Pilot City to be developed under the Program in the first tranche.

Presently, the Punjab government is negotiating PICIIP starting from investment in the first tranche cities of Sialkot and Sahiwal. Confirmation for these cities was sent to the ADB through P&D Department in the shape of comments on the Aide Memoire of ADB’s Consultation Mission in November 2014.

Moreover, sources told that the Integrated City Development Strategy (ICDS), Climate Risk & Vulnerability A (CRVA) and Mid Term Infrastructure Investment Plan (MTIIP) for the said cities have been prepared.

The names of cities of Bahawalpur, RY Khan and Sargodha were submitted before the Committee for approval for the next phase of investment under Multi Tranche Financial Facility (MTFF), officials told adding the selection of the cities will be finalized after approval by CM Shehbaz Sharif.

It is also submitted to the CM office that the cities of Bahawalpur, Rahim Yar Khan and Sargodha have been identified by the LG&CD Department for the next tranche under PICIIP on the basis of specific criteria that include North South regional parity, potential cities to contribute in Punjab Economic Growth as envisaged in Punjab Growth Strategy 2018, population and regional connectivity, institutional systems and willingness to improve capacities and respond to citizen needs, history of efforts to improve city features, likelihood to forge partnerships with private and community sectors. Moreover, ability to lever co-financing, likelihood to scale-up initial investments and, environmental sensibility are some other factors to be gauged.

It was also told that the ADB’s Consultation Mission already visited Punjab from 7 to 12 March, 2016. The Mission held discussions with various agencies of the Government of Punjab including the P&D Department, LG&CD Department and Urban Unit.

The delegation also visited Sialkot and Sahiwal and met with the District Governments and TMAs. Consequently an Aide Memoir based on the discussions held and understanding reached between the Mission and Government of Punjab have been received from the ADB for confirmation.

The officers further told that the civic conditions of the cities would be far better after the PICIIP was implemented.