ISLAMABAD - Apart from releasing $430 million for income support programme to support the poor sections of Pakistan, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Tuesday said that it is on board and supportive of the construction of Diamer Bhasha Dam.

“We have now moved ahead and are working to find a way to structure of Diamer Bhasha Dam and we are already looking at various models in this regard”, said Xiaoyu Zhao, Vice President (Operations-1) Asian Development Bank, while talking to Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar.

Xiaoyu Zhao said that ADB is appreciative of the bold steps taken by the present government for reviving the economy especially for successfully clearing the circular debt, which was crucial for bringing in new investors and financing in the energy sector. Xiaoyu said that he was gratified to learn that the new government has zero tolerance for corruption and it is committed to transparency and that this message would reap rich dividends for Pakistan.

Vice President ADB said that time has come to begin a new relationship with Pakistan and reverse the present trend of negative inflows. He also assured that the bank would soon release $430 million for income support programme as it shares the policy of the present government to support the poor sections of the society. “Bank is committed to TAPI gas pipeline project which will encourage energy connectivity in the region”, he added.

Senator Ishaq Dar apprised the Vice President ADB that 1700MW were added to the national grid after clearance of circular debt. We are working to check leakages, reduce line losses and eradicate theft as a part of our energy policy.

Dilating on the future plans at hand for construction of new power plants, he said that the Nandipur Project having a capacity ranging from 425- 525MW, Neelum-Jhelum Hydropower Project of 969MW, Karachi coastal projects of 2017MW are under various stages of implementation.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the Finance Minister said, recently inaugurated Pakistan Power Park in Gadani where ten coal-fire thermal power plants would be installed. The government has already acquired 1800 acres of land and intends to acquire the remaining 3200 acres for the park shortly. A jetty is also being constructed so that import of coal for these plants can be facilitated.

A lot of interest is being shown by foreign and local investors to set up thermal power plants in Pakistan including Chinese and other foreign investors. Senator Ishaq Dar said that our present focus and priority is on the construction of Diamer Bhasha Dam and we would like to fast track this project.

The Finance Minister informed the Vice President ADB that during his recent visit to Karachi Stock Exchangehe he discussed the possibility of raising capital for infrastructure projects and was encouraged to learn that the markets had substantial appetite. Senator Ishaq Dar said that Asian Development Bank’s contribution as a development partner of Pakistan has been phenomenal.