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Top planning body clears $986m polio programme

ISLAMABAD: The Cen­tral Development Working Party (CDWP) on Thursday cleared a revised $986 million polio eradication programme and deferred a decision on a Rs48 billion small dam project in Sindh due to unresolved issues.

The CDWP meeting was presided over by Minister for Planning and Develop­ment Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtyar and attended by representatives of relevant federal ministries and provincial governments.

Under the revised Emer­gency Plan for Polio Eradi­cation programme, international agencies would fina­nce a $347m exercise to be concluded in 2021. The meeting was informed that polio was expected to be eradicated from Pakistan by the end of 2019, but two more years would be req­uired for follow-up to ensure complete eradication of polio’s core reservoirs.

The CDWP recommended second revision of the Emergency Plan for Polio Eradication worth $986.3m. It was reported that about $640m had already been spent on the polio eradication programme over the past years. The last phase of about $326m was launched in 2014 with the hope that the crippling disease would be eradicated within the timeframe of the programme, but polio cases started to re-emerge over the past couple of years, leading to travel ban on Pakistani travelling abroad.

The two organisations of the United Nations — Unicef and World Health Organisation — are involved in delivery of polio vaccination, supplementing immunisation and interruption of wild polio virus in the country.

The CDWP observed that given the national priority for polio eradication, a holistic action plan should be put in place to ensure zero polio cases in the country as per national and global commitments. The sponsors were asked to devise a monitoring mechanism for smooth implementation of the emergency polio campaign, secure the provincial governments’ commitment for reimbursement of loans and run a robust campaign jointly with the provinces to eradicate the core reservoirs where sewerage water was contaminated with poliovirus.

The planning minister asked the relevant agencies to provide breakup of social mobilisation and communication expenditure for the next three years.

The project was provisionally recommended to the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) for approval.

The meeting also took up the Nai Gaj Dam Project with a revised cost of Rs47.73 billion but deferred a decision on it because of a series of unresolved issues. The meeting asked the water resources division to resolve outstanding issues within a week so that the project could be referred to Ecnec for approval.

The minister observed that since Nai Gaj dam would overcome water shortages and irrigate an area of 28,000 acres in Sindh, it should be jointly financed by the provincial and the federal governments.

Because of fiscal constraints, the federal government alone could not bear the entire cost, he added.

He said that considering importance of the project, work on it should be expedited without any further delay and the Ministry of Water Resources should resolve designs issues.

Under its financial powers, the CDWP can itself approve projects costing no more than Rs3bn while the projects of higher estimated costs are approved by Ecnec on technical grounds.

The CDWP meeting also returned two projects of transport and communication sector and one project of housing and works due to non-compliance of earlier decisions. The projects include construction of a road over Mali Bund, another road from Dumlottee Wells up to link road adjacent to the Education City in Malir, Karachi, and RCC pre-stressed bridge at Lassan Thakral Logran Breela Daigi-Da-Pattan in Mansehra.

The CDWP extended the deadline for completion of three projects without any cost or scope revision, including the New Minerals Survey Scheme Phase-VI worth Rs1.085.3bn, the Nutrition Programme for Sindh with an estimated cost of Rs4.118bn and the E-Office Replication at all Divisions of the Federal Government Projects worth Rs440.3m.

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