ISLAMABAD - The government on Friday approved multibillion rupees mega development projects for the upcoming budget 2014-15, including Lahore-Karachi Motorway, Metro Bus service, Construction of New Rail Link from Islamabad to Muzaffarabad via Murree and other important projects.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif chaired a meeting to give a final look at the public sector development programme (PSDP) before presenting it at Annual Plan Coordination Committee (APCC) and National Economic Council (NEC). The APCC will meet on Monday to approve the PSDP as well as macroeconomic plan for next fiscal year. Sources informed that federal government has given much importance to the mega projects as against small/ medium projects in the budget for upcoming fiscal year. Therefore, the government has approved multibillion projects in budget. The high level meeting under the chair of Prime Minister has approved the Lahore-Karachi Motorway projected. Sources informed The Nation that Lahore-Karachi Motorway has been divided into three phases, with estimated cost of Rs700 billion. The land acquisition cost has been estimated at Rs60 billion which will be made part of the PSDP list for next fiscal year. The first two phases of Lahore-Karachi Motorway having a cost of Rs332 billion will be financed through PSDP.

Similarly, the meeting has also approved other mega projects like Construction of Faisalabad - Khanewal M-4 Motorway 57 km and Rawalpindi-Islamabad Metro Bus project. The meeting also approved the allocation for Construction of Diamer Bhasha Dam (4500 MW), Dasu Hydro Power Project (2160 MW). It has also approved the initiatives of feasibility study for construction of New Rail Link from Islamabad to Muzaffarabad via Murree, Feasibility study for construction of New Rail Link from Havelian to China border, Feasibility Study to connect Gwadar with Karachi through rail, Approach roads to New Islamabad International Airport, New Gwadar International Airport project, Jetty and Infrastructure development at Gaddani, Gwadar Port Economic Free Zone project and Pak-China Technical & Vocational Institute at Gwadar and Quaid-e-Azam Solar Park at Lal Sohnra Park Phase-II (600 MW).

It is worth mentioning here that government has allocated Rs 525 billion for public sector development programme (PSDP) for the upcoming financial year 2014-15 against the revised allocation of Rs 425 billion of the outgoing fiscal year. The APCC would approve the PSDP on Monday.

The federal government did not issue the working paper to ministries/ divisions or provinces prior to the APCC meeting to incorporate their suggestions/ proposals in the development budget. The government would present the working paper in the meeting to be held today. The representatives of provincial governments especially from Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa may argue that they are unprepared because of non-availability of the working paper.

The APCC meeting, to be presided over by Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal, would be attended by ministers for development from four provinces, Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan and all the federal secretaries and heads of autonomous corporations.

Under the macroeconomic plan for next fiscal year, which is likely to be approved in today’s meeting, the government would set GDP growth target at 5.1 percent and inflation at eight percent for upcoming financial year 2014-15.

Meanwhile, the official statement issued here stated Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif has said that we have embarked upon the road to progress and the projects initiated by our government will usher our country into an era of prosperity. These projects will not only create millions of job opportunities in the country but also raise the living standard of our people.

Prime Minister told the participants that each penny in our kitty is a public trust and emphasised upon efficient use of public money. Prime Minister was given a detailed briefing on the PSDP projects included in the next financial year budget. PM was told that each project, whether small, medium or large has been evaluated with reference to cost, importance, priority and time frame. The meeting was attended by Minister Finance Ishaq Dar, Minister Planning Ahsan Iqbal, Hamza Shahbaz MNA, Capt (r) Safdar MNA and senior officials of the concerned ministries.