The government on Friday approved three development projects worth Rs339 billion including Rs23.5 billion worth of university scheme as an alternative to Prime Minister Imran Khan’s promise to convert his official residence into a teaching institute.

The Pak University of Engineering and Emerging Technologies (PUEET) project was among the three schemes that the Executive Committee of National Economic Council (Ecnec) approved on Friday.

“The Ecnec approved the project regarding Pak University of Engineering & Emerging Technologies (PUEET), a research university, which will house various centers of excellence in the cutting-edge fields of science and technology and state-of-the-art Technology Park,” according to a Ministry of Finance statement.

Prime Minister Imran Khan had promised that he would not use the official residence of the PM as his house. But subsequently he did not fulfil his promise and started using the official sprawling residence. As an alternative to his promise, the government has now planned to construct the university in an area that is adjacent to the PM House.

The total cost of the project is Rs23.54 billion and the project will result in better quality of education, build industry-academia collaboration and train graduates in new technologies, according to the finance ministry.

It was the second time that Ecnec approved the PUEET project in the past three months. Earlier, in June Ecnec had cleared the project with instructions that the total cost of the project would not exceed Rs23 billion.

The project faced many issues at the planning stage, including serious observations raised by the Central Development Working Party (CDWP) in March this year – a body that has the mandate to approve up to Rs10 billion cost projects and recommend higher than ceiling schemes to the Ecnec.

The CDWP had recommended dropping some of the project components including a technology park and scholarships to avoid duplications with work of the Special Technology Zone Authority and scholarships being managed by the Higher Education Commission.

The project has been prepared on the basis of the in-house feasibility study and no third-party study was done, according to an official of the Ministry of Planning.

The Ecnec meeting had been convened in anticipation of approval of the Karachi Circular Railways bridge project. The project could not be brought to the table due to the non-resolution of issues by the government of Sindh and the federal authorities.

Read Govt to assist in promoting higher education: PM Imran

Ecnec also approved a project for the construction of Dir Motorway at a cost of Rs39 billion. The project is sponsored by the government of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) and will be executed by the Pakhtunkhwa Highway Authority (PHA). The project envisages construction of a 29.4km long, four-lane dual carriageway which starts from Chakdara and ends at Rabat, District Dir, K-P province.

The scope of work includes construction of bridges, tunnels, underpasses and cross road flyovers. The entire project is located in the lower Dir region of K-P. The above-mentioned project will enhance road connectivity and promote tourism.

Similarly, Ecnec also approved another summary sponsored by the K-P government regarding Peshawar – D I Khan Motorway. This project will also be executed by the Pakhtunkhwa Highway Authority (PHA). The total cost of the project is Rs276.5 billion, according to the finance ministry.

The project envisages construction of a 360km long, six-lane dual carriageway from Peshawar to Dera Ismail Khan and will pass through District Kohat, Hangu, Karak, Bannu, Lakki Marwat, Tank and terminate at Dera Ismail Khan. The scope of work includes construction of tunnels, underpasses, etc. The construction of the motorway will enhance trade & tourism and also generate employment opportunities during and after the construction of the road project. The improved road connectivity will increase economic prospects for the local population.

The provincial finance minister briefed the committee that the K-P government is developing motorways and expressways in order to connect tourist spots which will not only increase the number of tourists but also ultimately increase the business/employment opportunities for the local population and contribute towards socio-economic development of the area.

Ecnec welcomed such projects to make Pakistan a hub of tourism for the domestic and international tourists as envisaged by the prime minister.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 11th, 2021.

Like Business on Facebook, follow @TribuneBiz on Twitter to stay informed and join in the conversation.