The Peshawar Safe City project, whose approval was granted three years ago, has not yet been initiated because of the province’s poor financial condition, an official privy to the development said on Saturday.
Pakistan and China initialed the Safe City projects for Islamabad, Lahore and Peshawar in 2009 during PPP’s tenure. The then PPP government approached former ANP-led provincial government about execution of the project in Peshawar. The provincial government was to provide half of the amount while the other half was to be provided by the federal government.
China submitted a report to the federal government, estimating an expenditure of Rs100 billion, 52% of the amount was estimated as consultancy charges while 48% of the amount was set aside for purchasing and installing the required equipment.
According to the agreement, China was to provide 75% of the total amount as a soft loan that was to be paid back over a 25-year period while the remaining 25% was to be given as grants for the projects.
A senior official at the K-P Home Department, who was involved in preparation of the preliminary survey, told The Express Tribune that the federal government approached the K-P government and a survey was conducted for Peshawar city.
Though the PC-2 for executing the project in Peshawar has been approved, the provincial government is reluctant to start work on it because it cannot afford the huge spending.
The official said that the former government had almost rejected the project because of paucity of funds. But because of China’s involvement, it was not possible for the K-P government to refuse it altogether, added the official.
The province, already indebted in excess of Rs122 billion, could not execute the project and so it was decided to delay the project. The official said no meetings for the project were held after the middle of 2015.
According to him, the provincial government allocated just Rs1,000 for the project in the budget for fiscal year 2016-17, just to show that the project was in the pipeline. When contacted by The Express Tribune, Adviser to the CM on Information Mushtaq Ahmad Ghani blamed the previous bureaucracy for the inordinate delay. He said that talks were held with the Chinese company, Huwawei, and it was informed that the provincial government could not spend such a huge amount. When asked if the project had been delayed owing to poor financial conditions, Ghani said funds did not matter when public security was concerned.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 13th, 2016.