WASHINGTON: Finance Minister Hafeez Shaikh revealed on Wednesday that the US has committed to funding $200 million for preliminary work on the Diamer-Bhasha dam, including for feasibility studies and surveys. This was in addition assistance in repairing four dams and an instalment of the Coalition Support Fund (CSF).
In a press conference at the Embassy of Pakistan in Washington, Shaikh calmed nerves by revealing that the ADB was not pulling out of the Diamer-Bhasha project. Instead, he pointed out that the mega-project would take up to 10 years to finish and required a consortium to fill the massive funding gap. The minister added that Pakistan was hopeful funding for the project would increase further in the future.
Shaikh said he and his team met with officials from the State Department, Treasury Department, the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and IFC, as well as OPIC and the US Trade Representative during their visit to the US capital. The Finance Minister said that in their meetings with US officials, they had agreed to set up a task force which would work on helping Pakistan gain further access to the US market.
In addition to the Diamer-Bhasha pledge, Shaikh said Pakistan had also been promised an instalment of five to six hundred million dollars as part of the CSF.
Shaikh added that the US was also funding repair work on four dams, including Tarbela, Guddu, Muzaffargarh – which would help boost electricity production by 900 megawatts.
While acknowledging that foreign investment has declined in Pakistan, he said that they were working on trying to promote Pakistan as an investment destination for US businesses.
He added that they also discussed reforms in the energy sector and improving public sector corporations.
In response to a question on whether the Iran-Pakistan pipeline project, one that the US has opposed, was brought up, the finance minister said that Pakistan’s projects with other countries was not discussed in any of his meetings with US officials.