Diamer Bhasha Dam project-President asks ADB to start financing

ISLAMABAD,Aug 26 (APP):President Asif Ali Zardari on Friday called upon Asian Development Bank (ADB) to start process of financing Diamer Bhasha Dam as the project has been approved at all internal fora of the country.The President said the project is useful as water storing reservoir, for production of inexpensive hydro energy of 4500 MW, for ensuring food and water security and for increasing cultivable lands.This he said during two separate review meetings, one about the ADB supported projects and the other about World Bank supported projects here at Aiwan-e-Sadr.
The meetings were attended by  Finance Minister Dr. Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, Federal Minister for Water & Power Syed Naveed Qamar, Federal Minister for Petroleum & Natural Resources Dr. Asim Hussain, Secretary General to the President M. Salman Faruqui, Deputy Chairman Planning Commission Dr. Nadeem-ul-Haq and federal secretaries of relevant ministries and heads of departments.
During the meeting about ADB supported projects, Xiaoyu Zhao, Vice President, Juan Miranda, Director General and other officials of ADB were present. World Bank supported projects review meeting was attended by Rachid Ben Messaoud, Country Director, and other members of World Bank international team on energy sector.
The President during the meetings said that the government was committed to reforming the energy sector as the availability of sufficient energy was critical for economic and social development in the country.  He said that a committee headed by the Finance Minister had been constituted to formulate a plan to address various issues of the energy sector including both short and long term.
The President also emphasized improving communication infrastructure as to promote inter and intra state trade activities. He said Pakistan due to its geo-strategic location provides the shortest possible sea access to many countries of the Central Asia.  With better road infrastructure and well-designed communication networks the real potential of trade can be encashed by the regional countries, he reiterated.
The President also sought support for the construction of roads through the CAREC Funds for integrating Pakistan with Central Asia. It may be recalled that Pakistan became member of the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) in October last year which consists of ten countries including Afghanistan, China, and Central Asian Republics.
The main objectives of this platform are to promote development by supporting accelerated growth and poverty reduction through regional cooperation in transport, trade facilitation, and energy cooperation among these countries.  The CAREC program is a partnership of six multilateral institutions including ADB, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, IMF, Islamic Development Bank, UNDP and the World Bank.
The President said the government was committed to taking remedial measures to redress conventional ills of economy and to maintain fiscal discipline, reduce fiscal deficit and mobilize domestic resources to pursue high growth. He appreciated ADB’s assistance for development of Pakistan especially in the energy sector with a portfolio of over $1 billion. He also appreciated World Bank engagement with Pakistan since 1952.
The President also noted World Bank’s development assistance for the country amounting to US $ 4.5 billion and International Finance Corporation portfolio of US $ 860 million.  The President acknowledged WB’s assistance in energy sector with proposed portfolio of US$ 1.8 billion and US$300 million by IFC. During meeting on World Bank supported projects, it was informed that up to 33 ongoing projects in different sectors were being financed by the World Bank.
These involve total commitment of US $4.5 billion out of which US $2.5 billion stand disbursed till June 2011.

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