Minister of Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar has announced that the government will spend Rs600 billion on development projects for nine districts in southern Balochistan over the next three years to improve the lives of local people.
Of this total, the federal government will provide Rs540 billion, while the rest will be spent by the Balochistan government.
Speaking at a press conference in Islamabad on Thursday along with Information and Broadcasting Minister Shibli Faraz, Defense Production Minister Zubaida Jalal and Communications Minister Murad Saeed, Umar said the government would also involve the private sector in several development projects in the area.
The package, he added, was prepared under the special direction of Prime Minister Imran Khan who has a strong belief in uplifting a weak segment of society. “The nation’s historic package has been prepared with an integrated strategy to ensure that all levels of society benefit from this package.”
The Minister for Planning hopes that upon completing the program, the poorest regions of the country will see prosperity and become a practical example of PM Imran’s vision of Naya Pakistan.
In the past, he said, the approach to allocating funds for development projects was different and not integrated, but now “we have started a new system in which all sectors and ministries will be collectively involved.”
For example, Umar said, in southern Balochistan, agriculture is the most important source of income for local people who need water, for which a dam must be built.
He said that currently only 12 percent of the people in the area enjoy the government’s electricity facilities. “Under this package, we will provide electricity to more than 57 percent of the population in the region and for this off-grid electricity option will also be implemented to provide electricity to the population spread across the area.”
Likewise, the government will build 16 new dams that will irrigate about 150,000 hectares of land, he added.
In addition, said the Minister of Planning, about 640,000 children will be provided with distance education and they will be connected with teachers in big cities. “Under the Waseela Taleem program, as many as 83,000 children will be provided with free education and the government will also pay an allowance of Rs1,500 for boys and Rs2,000 for female parents each month.
Umar emphasized that in the health sector, there are 200 health centers that will be upgraded. Likewise, he said, 35,000 young people in the area will be trained to become freelancers.
He informed that the area was suitable for cultivating olives and dates so that the government would establish one olive processing unit and three date palm processing units so that local farmers could add value to their products.
Under the Nashonuma Health program, the minister said pregnant women and newborns would be provided with the food they needed so that stunting problems could be prevented. “Likewise, under this program, billions of rupees will also be spent on road projects connecting the area with other countries.”
Answering the question, Umar said: “We are not only identifying development projects but we will build an integrated governance structure that will ensure timely project implementation.”
In response to other questions, he said first the government had announced a package for Federation-Managed Tribal Territory (Fata), then for Karachi and had now announced a package for South Balochistan.
“After this we will see northern Balochistan, the interior of Sindh and Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) so that PM Imran Khan’s vision to provide equal opportunities to all segments of society and regions in the country can be fulfilled,” he said.