Planning Minister Asad Umar on Saturday said the federal government has earmarked Rs40.5 billion worth of funds for development projects in Gilgit-Baltistan under the Public Sector Development Programme (2021-22).
“The total worth of the GB development package is Rs55 billion,” he said while addressing a press conference here along with G-B Chief Minister Khalid Khursheed and provincial ministers.
He also vowed to increase the federal allocation for the G-B development package up to Rs50 billion in the fiscal year 2022-24. The minister said the Gilgit-Shandoor Expressway would be completed at a cost of Rs50 billion and it would be included in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
“G-B is an important region and the government can earn huge revenue by giving proper focus on it,” Umar said. The planning minister pointed out that the vaccination process in the mountainous region was given priority by establishing six vaccination centres so that the tourism sector could not be affected.
He appealed to the people to get vaccinated against coronavirus as soon as possible. The federal government was providing 30 mobile units to G-B that would be used for vaccines in remote areas, he added.
Under the mega-development package, he added that funds for the ongoing development projects in G-B have also been set aside to ensure their timely completion.
He explained that the development package included in the PSDP envisaged hydel power generation and transmission projects, connectivity projects for tourism, youth skill and scholarship programme, upgrading of the health system and water and sanitation projects.
“The message of the Prime Minister Imran Khan to the people of G-B is that if G-B develops in the true sense, then the whole Pakistan would be prosperous,” he said.
Under the integrated development plan for G-B, he said that 19 mega projects had been included in the federal PSDP – out of which 11 were approved so far by ECNEC and CDWP for which Rs56 billion worth of funds were allocated this year. The rest of the projects would also be approved soon.
With the completion of such projects, G-B would develop in a real sense and prosperity would come here, he said, adding: “Apart from the federal PSDP, the federal government would also take steps to take G-B out of backwardness.”
For the betterment of internet service in the region, the minister said that spectrum auction would be held in the next 2-3 months. Incubation centres were being set up at a cost of Rs500 million to enhance the business skills of the youth, he added.
Responding to a question on making G-B an interim constitutional province, Umar said that the entire national leadership was agreed that the mountainous region should have constitutional rights. “There is no backdoor diplomacy from India in this matter. Soon G-B will be included in the constitutional mainstream,” he added.
G-B CM Khalid Khursheed said that tenders for approved projects of G-B would soon be issued and work on the projects would be initiated thereafter.
(WITH INPUT FROM APP)