Bhasha Dam, other projects: Nakao pledges ADB support
Islamabad, September 18: Minister for Finance Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar on Tuesday said that the government would need the support of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Diamer Bhasha Dam. The Finance minister was briefing the visiting ADB President Takehiko Nakao who called on the Minister here Tuesday. Nakao told Dar that ADB would extend all possible help in relation to mega development projects.
— According to Dar, political situation has delayed three important transactions
Dar said that the World Bank is going to hold a Business Opportunity Conference in Washington on October 8 and “we are going to discuss Diamer Bhasha Dam Project in the conference because it has vital importance for generating energy as well as water conservation”.
“We also want to proceed with the projects of TAPI and CASA 1000 for fulfilling the energy needs of the country in the near future,” Dar told the ADB President. The Minister while greeting President ADB, said: “We welcome our esteemed guest on his first visit to Pakistan and appreciate our long standing and trust-worthy relation with our development partner.” The Minister also thanked President ADB for condolences extended by him on the deaths and losses of infrastructure caused by the ongoing floods.
Briefing President ADB on the economic condition of the country, the Finance Minister said, “we have been following a pro-development macro-economic agenda and improvements can be seen in revenue collection (16.44%), decrease in budget deficit (5.7%), growth in foreign remittances (13.7%), growth in large-scale manufacturing (4.2%) and the increase in the disbursement of agricultural credit (15.91%).
“Our government has also increased the spending on the social safety net, the allocation has increased from a mere Rs 40 billion to Rs 118 billion in the last fourteen months of our tenure. We ensured that no cuts were made in the Public Sector Development program allocations.”
The Minister said that the government could have added $2.4 billion to country’s foreign exchange reserves but the present political situation had delayed three of its important transactions; issue of Sukuk, divestment of OGDCL shares and the next IMF release. “But we would solve the issue amicably as we have already constituted a committee on electoral reforms,” he added.
Chairman National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), Major-General M. Saeed Aleem, also gave a brief presentation to the ADB President on the damages wrought by floods in Punjab, AJK and Gilgit-Baltistan. He said it is his first trip to Pakistan though he knew about the Gandhara civilisation in the area from his school days. He further said that he has great sympathies for the flood affectees and would like to assist in their rehabilitation process.
He said, “ADB helped the people in the Philippines affected by the typhoon Yolanda and in 2005, we also helped the people affected by the earth quake.” He further said, “we are happy to know that the Government of Pakistan has immediately started the relief work in the flood hit areas”. Nakao said that though they could lend only $1 billion to any country for the development projects, yet they would continue supporting Pakistan in projects like renewable energy, Jamshuro and projects of regional connectivity.
“We would like Pakistan to mobilise its domestic resources for development. Pakistan has a vast potential, it could turn itself into a success story in Asia. “We also support TAPI which is an important project for Pakistan. Diamer Bhasha is also an important project for managing water resources in Pakistan and we would help to the extent possible. As far as the rehabilitation of IDPs is concerned we would gladly extend our expertise for the reconstruction work,” the ADB President remarked.
The Finance Minister thanked Nakao for his visit and appreciated his resolve to help the flood affected people and IDPs. The meeting was attended by Governor, State Bank of Pakistan, Secretary, Petroleum and Natural Resources, Secretary National Food Security and Research, Secretary Finance, Secretary Water and Power, Secretary Planning, Development and Reform, Secretary Communication, Secretary Economic Affairs Division, Chairman WAPDA, Chairman Federal Board of Revenue, Chairman National Highway Authority, from the Asian Development Bank team Naoya Jinda, Chief Advisor to the President ADB, Klaus Gerhaeusser, Director General, Central West Asia Department, ADB, Werner Liepach, Country Director, ADB Pakistan Resident Mission, Saad Paracha, Country Programs Officer, ADB Pakistan Resident Mission.