Development spending: ECNEC approves Rs91b for seven mega projects

Punjab, AJK to receive reconstruction, flood prevention money; Balochistan to get new dam

Shahbaz Rana July 10, 2015

ISLAMABAD: The country’s highest authority for making development spending decisions on Thursday authorised seven large projects worth Rs91 billion, including the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government-funded 69-megawatt Lawi hydropower project, despite concerns over its high price tag.

Headed by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, the Executive Committee of National Economic Council (ECNEC) also deferred approval of the Lyari Expressway Project because the Sindh government has yet to remove the squatters from the land on the expressway’s outer side. Dar directed the planning ministry, the communication ministry, and the Sindh government to remove all impediments hindering the Expressway project and present a report in the next meeting.

ECNEC approved the 69 MW Lawi Hydropower Project, projected to cost Rs20.1 billion, including foreign loans worth Rs4.2 billion. However, the planning ministry raised objections over the cost of the project, which it said was extremely high when compared with other similar projects.

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The K-P government, which is funding the project, turned down the objections. Officials said the provincial government exerted pressure to get Lawi cleared by ECNEC.

The committee also allocated Rs22.3 billion for the rehabilitation and expansion of Warsak Hydroelectric Power Station, including a Rs11.3 billion foreign loan. This is the second phase of the rehabilitation project, which is meant to enhance Warsak’s power generation capacity from the current 193 MW to its actual nameplate capacity of 243 MW. ECNEC also allocated Rs3.4 billion, including a Rs2.1 billion foreign loan, for a transmission line that would move electricity from the 1,200 MW liquefied natural gas-fired power plant at Balloki.

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The body also allocated Rs9.6 billion for the construction of Basol Dam, located 54 kilometres north of Ormara, in Balochistan.

For Azad Jammu and Kashmir, ECNEC approved the Rs6.6 billion revised cost of the 2014 Flood Emergency Reconstruction and Resilience project. The Asian Development Bank is providing a Rs6 billion loan for the project, which will reconstruct 234 kilometres of roads damaged by the flash floods in the region in 2014.

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ECNEC also approved a similar project in Punjab, Rs17.7 billion Punjab Flood Emergency Reconstruction and Resilience Project. For this project, the Asian Development Bank is providing a Rs16 billion loan.

In Punjab, ECNEC also approved the Rs10.2 billion World Bank-funded Disaster and Climate Resilience Improvement Project. The project is aimed at social and economic recovery of flood-affected areas.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 10th, 2015.