Transit trade: Pakistan to open road, rail routes for regional states

December 11, 2013


Pakistan needed to exploit two main and significant resources – the unique geographical position of the country and a population of 180 million. PHOTO: FILE

LAHORE: Federal Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique has stated Pakistan is ready to offer its road and rail routes to all regional countries including China, India, Iran, Afghanistan, Turkey and Bangladesh.

He was speaking to the media after addressing the “Regional Conference on Strengthening Transport Connectivity and Trade Facilitation in South and South-West Asia”.

The conference was organised by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and Pacific (UNESCAP) and the Ministry of Commerce here on Tuesday.

He observed that the opening of the trade corridor was in the best interest of Pakistan. “We have to look at our interests, as we have to eradicate poverty, terrorism and extremism for which an improved and vibrant economy is of vital importance,” he said.

Rafique added Pakistan needed to exploit two main and significant resources – the unique geographical position of the country and a population of 180 million. He stressed that opening up of trade routes for India was also in favour of Pakistan.

“We are still lagging 200 years behind the developed world, therefore, we have to shun orthodox thinking to move forward on all fronts,” he maintained.

Rafique said south and southwest Asia consisted of about half the world population and was rich in mineral deposits besides having importance as a bridge between the North and the South, but its intra-regional trade was negligible.

In fiscal year 2008-09, the intra-regional trade in South Asia was a mere 5% of global trade, which was far below the potential.

The minister stressed the need for exploring and taking optimal benefits from regional trade. Pakistan government, he added, was focusing and working on national and regional connectivity to connect China, India, Central Asia, Middle East and Europe while work on the Gwadar Port was going on at a swift pace.

The minister pointed out that the Torkham-Jalalabad link was of great importance regarding transportation of raw material, while the Quetta-Taftan link would prove to be the best trade corridor to access Iran, Turkey and European markets. Khokhrapar-Monabao (India) link was also being examined for trade.

He said a delegation of the Pakistan Railways would soon visit India to gain knowledge and experience of the Indian rail system, as Delhi had turned its railways into a profitable entity while Pakistan was yet to achieve the goal mainly due to lack of resources.

Pakistan Railways was searching for a foreign partner for investment to improve its infrastructure, he added.


37 road infrastructure projects to be completed during current year: Dr Arbab

December 26, 2011

ISLAMABAD(SANA): The National Assembly was informed on Thursday that thirty-seven road infrastructure projects will be completed by National Highway Authority during the current fiscal year.

Minister for Communication Dr. Arbab Alamgir Khan told the House during question hour that 2305 million rupees have been spent on repair of Highways and Motorways damaged by the floods.

He said a PC-1 of 23.56 billion rupees has been forwarded to Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) for approval to carry out reconstruction of the remaining flood damaged road infrastructure. A loan agreement has also been signed with the Asian Development Bank for the flood emergency reconstruction project.

To a question, the Minister said the Kallar Kahar portion of Motorway will be realigned to avert serious accidents there. He said the National Highway Authority has planned to undertake dualization of Muzaffargarh to Dera Ghazi Khan through public-private partnership from October next.

He said toll connection on motorways is being upgraded and replaced with electronic toll traffic management system. The Minister said that the National Highway and Motorway police has taken a number of measures to ensure safety of passengers road users. Four permanent trauma centres are being constructed on different Motorways.

Minister for Religious Affairs Syed Khurshid Ahmad Shah told the House that five point eight million families living below the poverty line are being given cash grant on regular basis under the Benazir Income Support Programme. He said these beneficiaries are also being given health insurance and a proposal is under consideration to exempt them from the payment of sales and other taxes. He said those living below the poverty line will also be given concessions in electricity bills.

He said a poverty survey has been completed in most parts of the country except FATA and some districts of Southern Punjab. He said the survey in the remaining areas will be completed by March next which will help determine the exact ratio poverty in the country.

Parliamentary Secretary for Information Technology Nawab Liaquat Ali Khan told the House that new technology is being introduced to bolster the agriculture produce and ensure food security. He said nine PSDP projects are being executive to popularize the already developed technologies. He said a number of agreements have been signed with different national and international organization to transfer technologies to the farmers as well as to the public department.

Responding to a supplementary question, Minister for Communication Dr. Arbab Alamgir Khan told the House that work on 133 kilometer Karachi-Hyderabad (M-9) will be started next year. He said negotiations for undertaking this project on Build Operate Transfer (BOT) basis with a Malaysian Company is in final stages and will be signed next month.

Minister for Religious Affairs Syed Khurshid Ahmad Shah informed the House that the government has no plans to privatize Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA). He said the present government has always pursued pro-workers’ policies and abolished all black laws introduced by the dictators. He said we have a given a new concept of privatization by giving twelve percent shares to the employees of public sector under the Benazir Stock Option Scheme.

Parliamentary Secretary for Information Technology Nawab Liaquat Ali Khan told the House that sufficient urea is available in the country to meet the requirements of the growers. Responding to a call attention notice moved by Murtaza Javed Abbasi Minister for Religious Affairs Syed Khurshid Ahmad Shah told the House that eighty percent work in the earthquake affected areas of Azad Kashmir and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa have been completed. He said twenty-four billion rupees are required to complete the remaining work in the affected areas. Ten billion rupees have been allocated for this purpose during the current financial year while the remaining fourteen billion rupees will be allocated in the next financial year.

He said the government is committed to the complete reconstruction and rehabilitation of quake affected areas and ERRA has been directed to expedite work on the remaining projects.

Responding to another call attention notice Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Dr. Asim Hussain informed the House that three point five million vehicles are running on CNG in the country.

These are moving bombs and pose threat to the lives of the people. He said during the last few days explosions in the CNG fitted vehicles have claimed the lives of many people. The Minister said the powers of checking the quality of CNG cylinders be delegated to the OGRA and Institute of Hydrocarbon to ensure the quality of the cylinders.


CDWP approves 79 projects costing Rs343b

October 24, 2011

The Central Development Working Party (CDWP) in a meeting held here considered and approved seventy-nine projects costing Rs343.470 billion including a foreign aid component of Rs134 billion.

Deputy Chairman Planning Commission of Pakistan, Dr. Nadeem-ul-Haque chaired the meeting of the CDWP, which was also attended by the sponsoring agencies and the representatives from Provincial Governments and Special Areas.

The CDWP after due deliberation approved / recommended 79 projects costing Rs343.470 billion including Foreign Aid component of Rs134.986 billion. Of the 79 projects, 60 projects were related to Infrastructure Sector costing Rs317.863 billion, 17 projects of Social Sector costing Rs22.509 billion and 02 projects in other Sectors costing Rs3.098 billion were approved.

The CDWP is authorized to approve projects costing up to Rs1.0 billion. However, 35 projects, each costing over Rs1.0 billion, were recommended to Executive Committee of National Economic Council (ECNEC) for consideration/approval, says a statement issued by the Planning Commission here.

After 18th Amendment to the Constitution, the Federal Government has focused on implementation of Infrastructure projects, being its primary responsibility. In this sector, important projects of Transport & Communication like “Hasanabdal — Havelian — Mansehra Expressway E-35 (110 KM) ADB” costing Rs 46.8 billion, “Lowari Tunnel and Access Roads Project Modified as a Road Tunnel” costing Rs18.1 billion, “Rehabilitation of Track on Lahore — Lalamusa Section with New Signalling and Telecommunication System” costing Rs18.0 billion, “Modernisation of Gaddani Ship Breaking & Recycling Industry and Development of Allied Facilities at Gaddani” costing Rs11.4 billion and “Improvement and Widening of N-45 (141 KM) Section-1: Chakdara — Timargara Section — 2: Akhagram — Dir Section — 3: Kalkatak -Chitral” costing Rs9.2 billion were considered / recommended by the CDWP.

Similarly, addressing energy crisis the country, important projects like “Tarbela 4th Extension Hydropower Project (90 per cent by World Bank 10 per cent by sponsors own sources)” costing Rs79.488 billion, “Detail Design and Construction of Matiltan Hydropower Project (84 MW) District Swat, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa” costing Rs15.1 billion, “Detailed Design and Construction of Lawi Hydropower Project Chitral, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa” costing Rs12.2 billion, “Establishment of 48 MW Jagran-II Hydro Electric Power Station (Phase-II), District Neelum in AJK (Revised) (French Loan)” costing Rs7.0 billion and 04 Grid Station located in Balochistan and Punjab were also considered.

These projects will generate about 200 MW electricity after completion. For improving and conserving water resources in the country, nine projects of water sector costing over Rs12.0 billion were considered by CDWP mainly “Bazai Irrigation Project Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa”, “Remodeling of SMB Link Canal and Enhancing Capacity Mailsi Syphon, at Bahawalpur District and “Channelization of Deg Nullah from Muridke Narowal Road to Outfall (Punjab ADP)”. Moreover, CDWP advised the executing agencies to float projects on BoT basis to involve private sector in the development process of the country.

For rehabilitation and reconstruction of flood-affected areas, seven development schemes costing Rs5.5 billion were approved.