Majority of the socio-economic development projects to be implemented in Punjab with Chinese money under the multi-billion dollar China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will be carried out in South Punjab, a senior official told Dawn on Wednesday.
China has shown interest in financially supporting 16 projects related to education and vocational training, healthcare, poverty alleviation, agriculture and drinkable water supply sectors in Punjab as part of Beijing’s commitment to include socio-economic development schemes valuing $1 billion in the CPEC portfolio across Pakistan.
Although China is yet to finalise the list of projects it plans to support in Punjab and elsewhere in the country, the 16 schemes its experts have selected for implementation in the province include upgradation of the Mir Chakar Khan Rind University in DG Khan, a burn unit in Bahawalpur, an integrated development programme for the poor and vulnerable on tbe CPEC route, and innovative housing for the poorest in Lahore and Faisalabad. Besides, it will solarise tubewells and filtration plants, and support high-value agriculture along the CPEC’s western route and Barani areas in the province.
“South Punjab will get almost half of the total funds that are to be spent (by China) on the socio-economic projects in Punjab under the CPEC initiative,” Punjab’s chief economist Dr M Aman Ullah told Dawn when reached for details.
He said the cost of the selected projects was yet to be worked out.
The exact size of the investment China will make in socio-economic schemes in the province will depend on the projects that Beijing will finalise to support towards the end of April.
CPEC project director Hasan Daud Butt has already written the provinces to provide complete details of their proposed schemes including project scope, cost estimates, technical parameters, location, etc to Islamabad for sharing them with China for finalisation of the list.
China had agreed to finance socio-economic development projects with a grant of $1billion as part of the CPEC investment portfolio during Prime Minister Imran Khan’s trip to Beijing in November. Priority is to be given to schemes to be executed in the lesser developed or backward areas of each province like South Punjab, newly merged areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and North Sindh.
The scope of cooperation under the socio-economic development grant will be for implementation of high-impact, short gestation and high-visibility projects covering major cooperation areas of agriculture, medical treatment, poverty alleviation, water supply, education and vocational training.
These projects will be implemented incrementally: fast-track projects will be competed in one year and mid- and long-term schemes in two and three years respectively. But the execution of all schemes will start simultaneously.