China agrees to finance 14 social sector projects in GB

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ISLAMABAD: The visiting Chinese experts, who held detailed meetings with the representatives of federal and provincial governments, including Azad Jammu Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan (GB), have agreed to finance around 14 social sector projects worth Rs9.125 billion in GB under the grant programme of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

According to official sources, along with other provinces, GB had forwarded 19 projects to the Chinese experts for consideration. The experts are currently visiting Pakistan to evaluate social sector development projects, as China had earlier announced to provide grants for small projects across Pakistan.

Giving considerable share in the committed grants, the Chinese side agreed to finance a majority of the proposed projects in GB, which is a gateway to CPEC. According to sources, the proposals related to all projects, forwarded by the GB government during a meeting with Chinese experts held recently in Islamabad, were deliberated in detail.

According to available documents, the Chinese experts approved the provision of biomedical gadgets and ambulances for health sector in GB at a cost of Rs943.800 million. While approving the project in principle, the Chinese side asked the regional government to provide the details of required equipment/machinery along with quantity, quality, size, specification, type and brand.

The Chinese government approved an important project of ‘Union Council Based Poverty Reduction Project’ (UCBPRP) at a cost of Rs3.5 billion. It also okayed another project ‘Endowment Fund (for tourist assistance programe)’ at a cost of Rs1 billion. The experts informed that both the projects involved cash transfers, which is not covered in the socio-economic development portfolio policies. However, keeping in view the new/innovative ideas, the expert group would take up the matter with their government for a decision.

Approving another proposal of ‘Hospitality Training for Youth’ at a cost of Rs30.00 million, the Chinese side asked the GB government to identify fields/disciplines of training required for its 2,000 youth in hotel management, cooking, watering, guiding etc. Trainings would be imparted through bilateral training programmes, most preferably in China.

Appreciating another project ‘Demonstration Stations for Vertical Farming’ at a cost of Rs270 million, the Chinese experts asked the GB government to ensure provision of required specifications, quality, quantity and size of equipment and nature of trainings needs to be imparted to the relevant staff.

The Chinese side also agreed to provide Rs700 million for the project of ‘storage, processing and packaging system for the produce of GB’. In this regard, the GB Government has been asked to provide specifications, size, brand and quantity of equipment required for facility.

The neighboring country also appreciated another project of ‘Establishment of Pack House and Cool Chain System in GB’ but advised the regional government to float in the next phase of the programme.

The Chinese side agreed in principle to finance ‘production & improvement of seed & planting material by strengthening R&D stations in GB’ at a cost of Rs96 million. The GB government has been asked to provide details of centers, types of seeds, plants and equipment required for seed improvement and nature of R&D etc.

The other projects principally agreed under the grant programme included installation of drip irrigation system for fruit orchards in water-deficient areas of GB (Rs260 million), rollout of competency-based training and assessments (Rs22.138 million), smart classrooms (Rs112.872 million), provision of missing facilities in education institutions of GB (Rs1.51 billion), strengthening of CRVS System in all union councils of GB (Rs200 million), rehabilitation and installation of water purification plants (Rs125 million) and establishment of 15-bedded burn centre at DHQ Hospital, Gilgit.

On the other hand, projects including teaching equipment for schools in rural areas (Rs772.865 million), financial assistance for higher education scholarships and capacity building of GB’s education department (Rs1.3 billion), prepaid smart electricity meters in GB (Rs5.35 billion), propagation of jersey breed for enhancement of milk production in GB (Rs405 million) and promotion of aquaculture for socio-economic development and food security (Rs120 million), were not approved in the first phase of the grant programme.

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