A delegation of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) led by its vice president, Wencai Zhang, called on Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif on Thursday. They discussed areas of cooperation including skill development, education, energy, transport, infrastructure, and constructing small dams among others.
The delegation condemned the murder of over 40 members of the Ismaili community in Karachi on Wednesday and expressed sympathy for the bereaved families.
Zhang said Sharif had been serving the people of the province with determination and commitment. He said that he acknowledged his leadership qualities, especially where early completion of development projects was concerned.
“The Punjab has a charismatic leadership in the form of Shahbaz Sharif,” he said. The vice president assured cooperation with the Punjab government in energy, infrastructure, transport, skills development and other projects. Minister for Irrigation Yawar Zaman, MPA Ayesha Ghaus Pasha, the Planning and Development Board chairman, and senior officers were present at the meeting.
The chief minister said the ADB was an important partner of Pakistan and had helped the country initiate and implement a number of projects in various sectors.
He said the government wanted to promote cooperation with the ADB. “Pakistan is facing a shortage of electricity… The energy crisis has adversely affected the economy.”
He said that government had allocated significant resources to controlling the energy crisis and had accorded it the highest importance in its economic package negotiated with China.
Sharif said the government had signed agreements involving $20 billion with China in the energy sector. He said the Punjab government had completed a 100-megawatt solar power project in the Quaid-i-Azam Solar Park using its own resources. He said they had built it in record time and the project was now up and running.
He said 350 MW out of 900 MW from another solar project will be generated during the current year and the remaining 550 MW will be added to the national grid next year. He said the Punjab government will set up a 1,200 MW gas-based power station using its own resources. The federal government has committed to setting up 2,400 MW gas-operated energy projects in the province.
He said skilled manpower played an important role in improving the national economy and the Punjab government was paying due attention to the sector.
He said the government’s Skill Development Programme aimed to develop a skilled workforce in accordance with the market needs.
The chief minister said that the ADB could consider helping the Punjab impart skills to 500,000 youths each year.
He said the Orange Line Metro Train Project had been initiated with the cooperation of China. During the meeting, representatives of the Asian Development Bank indicated that they would want to work on projects worth billions of dollars in various sectors in the Punjab over the next three years. The chief minister issued instructions for the establishment of a high-level committee to discuss details of the projects. The committee has been asked to submit its report next month.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 16th, 2015.
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