Lahore – Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government has yet to take any initiative to promote construction of the Western Route under China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) during its first 100 days. While in opposition Imran Khan had consistently urged the PML-N government to construct the Western Route on priority basis as that would enable "the people of Balochistan to reunite with the rest of the country, and all the separatist movements would automatically come to an end."
Documents available with Business Recorder on the performance of Ministry of Planning, Development and Reforms during the first 100 days of the Imran Khan's administration note that: "CPEC vision has been refined with the slogan 'One corridor, Many doors', based on the present government's priorities, growth strategy and fiscal situation. These include (i) Trade and Market Access, (ii) Industrial Development and Global Value Chain, (iii) Socio-Economic Development and Poverty Alleviation, (iv) Agriculture Modernization and Marketing, (v) Gwadar Oil City and Blue Economy and (vi) Regional Connectivity and Third Country Participation.
Project Director CPEC Hassan Daud Butt told Business Recorder that "we will take up the project of construction of Dera Ismail Khan-Zhob Road of Western Route in eighth meeting of Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) of CPEC to be held in Beijing on December 19, 2018." He said that projects relating to Western Route would be initiated in new Joint Working Group on Socio-Economic Development.
Butt further stated that the PTI government did not change or drop any CPEC project but that two new working groups – on Socio-Economic Development and Agriculture Cooperation – had been constituted. He said new projects on socio-economic development especially relating to Gwadar City would be added under CPEC.
Senator Muhammad Usman Khan Kakar who had raised the issue of Western Route many times in the Upper House of Parliament and standing committees told Business Recorder that the previous government had budgeted Rs 5 billion in PSDP-2017-18 but the PTI government slashed that amount in the supplementary budget 2018-19.
Usman Kakar said he raised the issue of Western Route (Dera Ismail Khan-Zoob-Quetta and Sharab) in the Senate and relevant Standing Committees of the House but PTI government has not taken any initiative in this regard.
The PTI government rationalized PSDP 2018-19 from Rs 800 billion to Rs 675 billion and deleted as many as 343 un-approved projects and reduced throw forward by Rs 1887 billion.
The Ministry of Planning, Development and Reforms claims to have taken the following measures during the first 100 days:
1) It has finalized National Action Plan and Investment prospect for Sustainable Energy for All. Concept paper on Bright Balochistan off-grid solar PV project has been prepared and circulated among the stakeholders and IFIs/donor agencies to mobilize them and consultation is underway for design/preparation of PC-II.
2) A holistic and integrated water sources management plan has been drafted and flood sector plan has been initiated. Gwadar Water Stress Management plan has been drafted and Karachi City holistic water management plan has been drafted.
3) An assessment of the rural economy including farm and non-farm sector has been made. Strategy paper on enhancement of decent employment opportunities in rural areas has been developed in collaboration with ILO. A concept paper on "Rural Revitalization" for donors funding in collaboration with IFPRI has been prepared.
4) It has become a partner in a regional study for sharing rural transformation experiences with Indonesia, Bangladesh & China supported by Australian Government.
5) An Action Plan to implement Pakistan Multi-Sectoral Nutrition Strategy (PMNS 2018) has been formulated.
6) National Social Protection Framework has been drafted.
7) Planning Commission has initiated a process to access and examine the status of Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS) in Pakistan – this assessment will help to map and identify the missing links in the system (expected date of completion is end Nov/ early December 2018).
8) A policy paper on "Contraception as Women and Child Health Intervention" has been prepared which suggests institutional reforms in health and population departments.
9) Regional Summit on Civil Registration and Vital Statistics has been planned this month at Islamabad that will provide opportunity to share experiences of SAARC countries and further collaboration.
10) Voluntary National Review (VNR) of SDGs has been initiated. VNR will help review the national and provincial policies, institutionalize mechanism and enhance level of involvement at all levels.
11) It has actively contributed to the Task Forces on "Civil Service Reforms" and "Institutional Reforms and Austerity". Key contributions are:
Policy Papers on Civil Service Reforms i.e. induction, promotion, training, performance evaluation, pay and pension etc. Guidelines on Five Step Reform cycle, Citizen Client Charter, Performance Contract guidelines/ specimen model, presentation on Public Sector Financial management, training of building capacity to Use Research Evidence (BCURE) module to National Management Course and Senior Management Course, Mid Carrier Management Course participants, Master Training of the National School of Public Policy (NSPP) Faculty Members on BCURE.
The following actions are targeted for completion within the next six months by the Ministry of Planning, Development and Reforms:
1) A mapping of the present roads connectivity infrastructure is being conducted in consultation with NHA, FWO and NLC. To reduce burden/pressure on the PSDP, major roads/highways would be financed through innovative methods i.e. BOT, PPP, viability gap financing.
2) A feasibility study is being conducted to prepare a national framework for civilian spin offs from the defence and strategic R&D initiatives. Both the civilian as well as the defence sectors would benefit from this win-win cooperation.
3) Innovative Financing Strategy will be devised for '10 billion Tree Plantation Programme' and will be shared with Ministry of Climate Change for smooth implementation of the program.
4) An integrated power policy with increased focus on renewables on the generation side and evacuation and distribution through innovative financing would be developed in collaboration with Ministry of Power.
5) PSDP funded projects in the devolved sectors will be handed over to the provinces in the spirit of 18th amendment.
6) A Family Planning and Gender Empowerment unit will be established at the Ministry to provide technical support to the Population Task Force for providing leadership on the issues of population control and gender empowerment.
7) 12th Five-Year Plan (2018-23) will be finalised in the light of vision of the current government and then submitted to the cabinet for approval. The plan will include inter alia: macro-economic interventions; poverty alleviation strategy; employment generation strategy; plan for agriculture sector growth; and plan for socio-economic development;
8) 21 ongoing projects of the Ministry will be reviewed and rationalized in line with Government Vision.
9) Transformation plan based on Agriculture Cluster Development will be prepared and finalised.
10 Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) of CPEC is being planned for the next month so as move from short term projects to a long term perspective and to implement current Government vision in CPEC in terms of industrial cooperation, agriculture and socio-economic development.
11) Task force on Public Infrastructure Investment Optimization with special reference to mega projects would be constituted to identify issues and suggest policy measures to avoid cost and time overruns and to ensure transparency and efficiency.
12) A strategy for the design of next year's PSDP will be finalised well before the budget with focus on the priority sectors and innovative financing models for projects like Diamer Bhasha and Mohmand Dams etc.
13) The monitoring and evaluation mechanism of the PSDP projects would be improved with the use of ICT and a dashboard of all ongoing projects with their latest status would be made available to the policy makers.
14) Upgradation and implementation of Water Policy including improved water management, water metering, water pricing and conservation in consultation with the provincial governments.