The government on Wednesday approved Rs822 billion worth of mega projects, including the Prime Minister’s Laptop Scheme and a new motorway in Punjab.

Federal Minister of Finance Ishaq Dar chaired a meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) that took those decisions, including green-lighting the Rs377 billion agricultural tube well project again.

Ecnec approved the Prime Minister’s Laptop Scheme at a rationalised cost of Rs16.8 billion, including a foreign loan of Rs15.2 billion. The project, to be financed by the federal government, will be completed in two years by 2025.

Ecnec approved a project of the Aviation Division for the modernisation of hydromet services at a cost of Rs14.5 billion. It will be executed by the Pakistan Meteorological Department in the entire country. The project is being financed by the World Bank as a component of the Post-flood 2022 Reconstruction Programme.

A project of the Ministry of Water Resources titled “Water Requirement for K-IV Project Improvement of Kalri Baghar Feeder & Keenjhar Lake – Plain Cement Concrete Lining of Karli Baghar Feeder Upper Phase-I Project” was approved at a cost of Rs40 billion. It will be implemented in Jamshoro and Thatta districts of Sindh province. The cost of the project will be shared equally by the federal and Sindh governments.

Ecnec considered and approved a project for Punjab titled “Lahore Ring Road-Southern Loop (SL-3) Construction of Road from Raiwind Road up to Multan Road” at the total cost of Rs17.8 billion. The project will be executed in Lahore district and will be entirely financed by the government of Punjab’s Annual Development Plan.

The committee gave the go-ahead to a summary of the Ministry of National Food Security and Research on a project titled “Prime Minister’s National Programme for Solarisation of Agriculture Tube Wells in Punjab, Sindh, K-P and Balochistan” and allowed the inclusion of existing pumping systems in small dams, ponds, and rivers/ streams/ nullah ponds serving the same purpose as tube wells. The project had been approved on July 11 at a cost of Rs377 billion but was resubmitted to address some observations.

Ecnec green-lighted the construction of Khawazakhela-Besham Expressway, which would cost Rs79.2 billion. The project is planned to be executed by the National Highway Authority in Shangla and Swat districts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P). It will be financed entirely through PSDP.

A project of the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training titled “Pakistan Education Fund” was considered and approved, in principle, at a cost of Rs14 billion.

Ecnec approved Lahore-Sahiwal-Bahawalnagar Motorway covering 295 km at a cost of Rs263.8 billion. It will be executed in Bahawalpur, Kasur, Lahore, Okara, Pakpattan and Sahiwal districts of Punjab. The project will also be financed by the PSDP.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 20th, 2023.

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