The government, in view of increasing demand of skilled manpower, plans to establish 400 vocational training institutes on cost sharing basis with Provincial governments all over the country. This will also bridge supply and demand gap of technical manpower required for China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects. Official sources while listing different development projects proposed to be executed during next fiscal year, said infrastructure was very important not only to attract foreign investment but also to reduce the cost of doing business.
Accordingly, infrastructure sector has been earmarked 62 per cent of the total development budget. Highest priority has been accorded to transport and communications sector with an allocation of Rs 400 billion. This includes Rs 310 billion for national highways, Rs 39 billion for Railways and Rs 44 billion for other projects including Aviation schemes like Gwadar International Airport.
Railways which remained neglected for decades was given boost during last 4-5 years whereby allocations (2013-2018) has increased from Rs. 16 billion to Rs. 43 billion. During 2018-19, government despite fiscal difficulties has financed railway main line, commonly known as ML-1 with modest allocation. This would not only modernize railways network but would also give boost to CPEC trade. CPEC offers a ‘game-changer’ opportunity for economic growth and employment for our people and future generations. It would be a source of regional and national integration boosting trade opportunities and changing socio-economic fabric of the country.
Special security requirement of CPEC projects are met by providing one (I) percent cost of CPEC projects. CPEC related projects would enter into their third year of implementation during 2018-19. In 2018-19 new projects costing Rs. 835 billion will be added in CPEC and its supporting projects. Thirty one projects for development of Gwadar are part of PSDP 2018-19 with an estimated cost of Rs.137 billion.
Pakistan is facing acute water scarcity requiring special interventions and to conserve water and its augmentation during 2018-19, water sector allocation has been enhanced from Rs.36 billion to Rs. 65 billion during 2018-19. For fast track development of Special Areas, Rs. 62 billion (AJK Rs. 22 billion, Gilgit Baltistan Rs. 15 billion and FATA Rs. 25 billion), have been allocated. Special areas have been authorized to ensure that fruit of development reach to the common man.
The government assigns high priority to human resource development in the country. An amount of Rs. 57 billion has been allocated for Education Programmes including Higher Education. Health and population subjects are responsibilities of provincial governments after 18th amendment. However, in view of its importance, the federal government continued supplementing efforts of the Provincial Governments to improve quality of life, is financing major programmes of health and population with an allocation of Rs. 37 billion Expanded Programme of Immunization, Control of Hepatitis, Malaria and Blindness programmes. Capacity issue in civil services needs attention.—APP