PTI govt aims to develop 50 intermediate cities: Bakhtyar

Is planning to ease burden on PSDP by seeking innovative financing

APP March 19, 2019
Khusro Bakhtiyar. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: The government is planning to ease some burden on the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) by seeking innovative financing through a public-private partnership and viability gap funding for commercially viable infrastructure projects, announced Minister for Planning, Development, and Reform Makhdum Khusro Bakhtyar.

“Additionally, the government is trying to reduce regional inequality through a regional equalisation strategy,” he said while talking to a delegation of the Asian Development Bank, led by Central West Asia Department Director General Werner Liepach on Monday.

Welcoming the delegation, the minister lauded the role of ADB for modernising infrastructure initiatives and stressed the need for expanding cooperation in education, health care, and other sectors, especially in underdeveloped areas of Pakistan.

Bakhtyar pointed out that the government was trying to utilise cities as engines of growth and was making efforts to develop 50 intermediate cities across Pakistan by developing basic urban infrastructure.

He underscored the need for impact assessment of different projects on regional growth and creation of job opportunities for the locals.

The minister told the delegation about the government’s vision of restructuring the public sector and improving governance for more efficient service delivery.

Emphasising that the bank would assist Pakistan government in mobilising required resources through local currency bonds, the ADB director general expressed the willingness to provide transaction advisory services for developing institutional capacity and competitiveness.

Liepach highlighted that the ADB was working on important infrastructure projects in Karachi and it had also agreed with the Punjab government on a programme for intermediate city development.  In that regard, work was underway in the cities of Sahiwal and Sialkot, he added.

Meeting with BOI chief

Separately, Liepach, along with his delegation, called on Board of Investment (BOI) Chairman Haroon Sharif at the BOI office.

“Prime Minister Imran Khan has taken a clear leadership role in reviving the economy and turning Pakistan into a lucrative destination for investors,” remarked Sharif, according to a statement issued on Monday.

Outlining efforts being made by the government, Sharif revealed that a number of neighbouring countries were ready to make a long-term investment in Pakistan and they were approaching the BOI with solid projects.

He said investors had expressed great interest and at least five multinational hospitality chains were engaged in negotiations with the BOI on their investment plans.

Sharif apprised the ADB director general of the areas targeted by the government which included the framework for industrial development, development of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) and moving from the traditional industry to value addition and exports through technology-driven solutions.

“The ADB can assist the government by providing expert technical advice to the BOI as well as by creating a fund to finance and address shortcomings in the existing seven SEZs,” stressed the BOI chief.

Liepach told Sharif that his organisation was ready to help by transferring expertise for drawing up different policy frameworks as well as by linking private-sector investments with investment opportunities in Pakistan.

He said the ADB team was visiting Pakistan in search for investment opportunities in private-sector ventures.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 19th, 2019.

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