Islamabad - The National Economic Council (ECNEC) on Friday approved development projects worth Rs 62 billion.

The Ecnec, which met under the chairmanship of Finance Minister Senator Ishaq Dar, has approved the “Establishment and Operation of Basic Education Community Schools in the Country” project with a rationalised cost of Rs 4282.059 million. The community schools in the project will spread all over the country and the Ministry of Education, Training and Standard in Higher Education will execute the project in 36 months. The project will bring the out of school children to schools and increase the overall literacy rate in the country.

The Ecnec approved reconstruction and rehabilitation of 277 flood damaged school buildings in ten districts of AJ&K with a rationalised cost of Rs.3865.035 million with IDB share of Rs.3500.010 million. The remaining will be the share of GOP (AJ&K). The project will be executed through Department of School Education AJ&K and completed by March 2019. It may be mentioned that the Floods of 2010 badly affected the infrastructure of Pakistan including AJ&K. In order to reconstruct and rehabilitate the damaged school buildings in AJ&K, the Finance Minister emphasised on timely completion of the project. He said that enhancing access to education is one of the key priorities of the Government of Pakistan. The project will also help increase literacy rate of AJK from 67pc to 95pc by 2019.

The Ecnec considered and approved eight projects of the Ministry of Water and Power for augmentation and extension of 132/11KV Transformers/ Power Distribution Enhancement Investment Programme Tranche-4 for distribution companies; IESCO (Rs.2061.657 million), FESCO (Rs.1833.842 million), HESCO (Rs.1291.945 million), GEPCO (Rs.1008.318 million), MEPCO (Rs.3678.794 million), LESCO (Rs.4808.214 million), QESCO (1183.566 million) and PESCO (Rs.2749.737 million). The projects envisage up-gradation/ extension of existing grid stations for uninterrupted and sustainable power supply to the consumers. The implementation period for the projects is 2014-16.

The Ecnec approved the project “Construction of Low Cost Housing Units for Earthquake Affectees of District Awaran, & District Kech, Balochistan” with a modified cost of Rs.4 billion. The Government of Pakistan will share 50pc cost (grant) and the remaining 50pc will be provided by the Government of Balochistan. Rs.2.0 billion has already been provided by the Federal Government and the Government of Balochistan. The project aims at award of cash grants of Rs.220,000/- to each house-owner for reconstruction of low cost two-room house; besides provision of solar electrification units. The project also aims at provision and installation of 18 community solar pumps for provision of water. The project will be implemented through “Owner Driven Reconstruction Strategy”. It may be mentioned that the Prime Minister directed for reconstruction of 16,000 houses in Awaran and Kech Districts which were hit by an earthquake of 6.8 rector scale in September 2013. The period of completion will be three years.

The Ecnec also approved Sindh Water Sector Improvement Project (Phase-I) with a cost of Rs 30,353.000 million which includes World Bank (IDA credit) of Rs.28,840.000 million. The project will be implemented in the command area of Ghotki feeder, Nara, Fuleli and Akram Wah canals. The main objective of the project is to improve the effectiveness and operational efficiency of water distribution by ensuring the safety of the canal system and delivering due share of water to the farmers at the tail end.The Ecnec considered a report of the Planning Division for already approved Jamshoro 02x600MW coal fired power project. The Ecnec was informed that due to rationalisation and strengthening of Pak rupee, there has been a reduction of Rs.77.54 billion in the cost of the project. It may be mentioned that Ecnec in its meeting held on 12.2.2014 approved the project subject to rationalisation and revision of cost due to strengthening of Pak rupee.

The meeting was also attended by Pervaiz Rashid, Minister for Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage, Ghulam Murtaza Jatoi, Minister for Industries & Production, Sikandar Hayat Khan Bosan, Minister for National Food Security, Zahid Hamid, Minister for Science and Technology, Ms Anusha Rehman, Minister of State for Information Technology, Jam Kamal Khan, MOS for Petroleum & NRs, Abdul Hakeem Baloch, MOS for Railways, Provincial Ministers, Federal Secretaries and senior officials of the federal and provincial governments.