Senate panel objects to reallocation of funds from CPEC – Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: A parliamentary committee on Friday expressed concern over reallocation of Rs24 billion under the head of “China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and other initiatives”.

The Senate Standing Committee on Planning, Development and Reforms met to discuss a calling-attention notice moved by Senator Mian Raza Rabbani regarding reallocation of Rs24bn out of Rs27bn under the head of special initiatives of the CPEC towards other programmes.

Members of the committee argued that the government could not reallocate funds dedicated to the CPEC. “Not only does this mean the CPEC is not being given priority but this also leaves room for corruption,” said Senator Talha Mahmood.

Committee seeks details of the projects towards which the money was transferred

The committee sought details of the projects towards which this money was reallocated and directed the Ministry of Planning, Development and Reforms to collect information from the cabinet division and submit before the next meeting.

Planning ministry’s secretary Zafar Hassan clarified to the committee that Rs27bn had not been allocated for CPEC projects but was targeted at other projects of national development under the sustainable development goals (SDGs).

The secretary explained that during the rationalisation exercise, with the deletion of unapproved projects, Rs55bn allocation was available for these projects. Of the Rs55bn, Rs27 billion was allocated for CPEC and other initiatives.

“Of the Rs27 billion, Rs24 billion was allocated for special initiatives taken by the government for development at grass-roots level and ensure achieving SDGs known as the SDGs Achievement Programme (SAP). The balance Rs3bn was kept as block to meet the requirement of CPEC projects during the year, if needed,” Mr Hassan informed the committee.

He explained that with this amount — already submitted to the Senate — there was neither reduction in the allocation for CPEC projects nor were any funds meant for CPEC re-allocated to any other project.

He also explained that of the Rs167.2bn allocated for CPEC projects during 2018-19, Rs193bn was authorised for release — which was 18 per cent higher than the allocation.

The committee was also briefed on the role of the Alternative Energy Development Board to enhance investment opportunities in renewable and alternative energies, especially in CPEC projects.

According to the Ministry of Planning, Development and Reforms, 24 wind power projects were in place under the 2006 policy and these projects were in Thatta district of Sindh. The committee was informed that some areas in Balochistan had high potential of wind power generation but were still not connected with the grid. It was told that 15 more projects were under development. In Balochistan, surveys had been conducted in the last three years and six solar power projects and eight biomass projects are functional at present.

The committee members recommended incentivising the private sector and overseas Pakistanis. The committee was told that renewable energy projects to be completed in future included 19 projects of 531MW, 22 projects of 1,199.3MW and 104 projects of more than 6,000MW.

The committee asked the Alternative Energy Development Board to submit province- and district-wise segregation of future wind and solar power projects. It also directed the board to provide details of the project of converting the existing tube wells in Balochistan into solar power as it was considered to be inefficient.

During the briefing on the M-8 Ratodero-Khuzdar Motorway project, the committee was informed by the NHA that 90pc work was completed with seven out of eight bridges functional. The committee was told that the initial cost of the complete project from Gwadar to Ratodero was Rs23bn for 900km stretch.

Published in Dawn, July 20th, 2019

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