Mr. Muhammad Khan Achakzai, Governor Balochistan,
Dr. Abdul Malik Baloch, Chief Minister, Balochistan,
Federal and Provincial Ministers,
Development Partners and
Representatives of the Civil Society, Academia, Media and
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Asalamo alaikum and good morning!
It is a matter of immense pleasure for me to inaugurate the Balochistan Development Forum. As you know, Balochistan province in terms of area is the largest province of Pakistan. It is rich in natural resources having large deposits of hydrocarbons and metallic minerals. It bears huge potential for development of agriculture, especially fruits, vegetables, fisheries and livestock. Its coastal areas, particularly the Gwadar port, offer great opportunities for socio-economic development of the province, as well as the whole country.
I am sure this Forum will provide a useful platform for government of Balochistan to share its strategy, policies and plans with development partners and other participants for constructive discussions and fruitful outcomes.
Ladies & Gentlemen,
I am glad that Balochistan government has made meaningful progress in socio-economic uplift of the people during the past one and a half years. Reconstruction of Ziarat Residency in its original shape in record time, holding of Local Government Elections in the province, rehabilitation of earthquake affectees of district Awaran, implementation of major infrastructure and social sectors projects, and above all, improving security environment in the province are only a few mentionable measures and achievements of the coalition government of Balochistan.
All of us are cognizant of the fact that owing to neglect in the past Balochistan lagged behind in socio-economic development. Of course, there is a lot that needs to be done to address the situation. Some corrective measures have already been undertaken in the shape of 7th NFC Award, Aghaz-e-Haqooq-e-Balochistan, 18th Amendment and substantive allocations for development projects.
To ensure, steady and predictable flow of financial resources and recognizing the relevance of the principle of inverse density, the share of Balochistan Province has been significantly increased from 5.11% to 9.09% in the 7th NFC award. Further, Balochistan’s share is protected on the basis of budgetary projections and is not affected by revenue shortfalls, which are borne by the Federal Government. During the current financial year against the budget estimates of Rs 162 billion, about Rs 80 billion has since been transferred to the Government of Balochistan. In addition, Rs 120 billion are being released to Government of Balochistan under Aghaz- e-Huqooq-e-Balochistan @ Rs 10 billion per annum from financial year 2010-11.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Development of Balochistan is close to my heart, and despite constraints, we have provided substantial resources to support and supplement the efforts of the Provincial Government to address the needs of the people. Allocation for Federal PSDP (Public Sector Development Program) in Balochistan has been substantially enhanced. During current financial year, Rs 61 billion have been allocated, which are 37% higher than financial year 2012-13. Rs 15 billion have been earmarked in PSDP 2014-15 as a ‘Special Development Package’ for Balochistan, which is the highest amongst all provinces.
Similarly, Ladies and Gentlemen,
In the last financial year, for the first time ever, the federal government released 100% funds to Balochistan for its development and non-development activities. Let me assure you, that the Federal Government will continue to do its best to support the development strategy of Balochistan.
Balochistan is central to Pakistan becoming a regional hub for trade in goods and energy. Its strategic location makes it pivotal both for the East-West as well as for the North-South trade routes. Quite naturally, Baluchistan is going to be the main beneficiary under the China – Pakistan Economic Corridor. Developing Gwadar Port, Gwadar Port City and allied infrastructure, including a modern new airport at Gwadar, and improved inland connectivity will, Insha Allah, make Gwadar a hub of not only our national, but also, regional trade. Establishment of Free Trade Zones and Special Economic Zones will underpin its prospects to become an attractive destination for foreign and domestic investment. These initiatives, we hope, will bring about a socio-economic revolution for the people of Balochistan.
Federal government is also financing and implementing a number of projects to address major gaps in infrastructure, as well as human development indicators in the province. Construction of M-8 (Gwadar-Turbat-Hoshab and Khuzdar-Ratodero) and N-85 (Hoshab-Basima–Sorab) will greatly improve its connectivity with up country. Federal Government has also launched a project costing Rs. 4 Billion, in collaboration with the provincial government, for construction of houses for earthquake victims of Awaran District. Similarly, to meet the electricity demand of Balochistan, a 300MW power plant is planned to be setup in Gwadar, two additional transmission lines 220 KV Dadu-Khuzdar and 220 KV DG Khan-Loralai have already been completed. These interventions will help minimize reduce distribution failures in Balochistan.
Higher education can provide entitlements to upcoming youth. Therefore to promote Higher Education facilities in Balochistan, Universities at Lasbela, Quetta, Loralai and Turbat are being financed besides upgrading laboratories and Institutes. COMSAT Institute of Technology is being setup at Jafferabad. Special provision has been made for scholarships for the students of Balochistan under Aghaz-e-Haqooq-e-Balochistan package.
Federal Government is also cognizant of the fact that Agriculture and Livestock are the backbone of the economy of Balochistan. Development of water resources such as Kacchi Canal and Naulang Dam will further improve prospects of economic wellbeing in the province. Recently on the request of Government of Balochistan Rs 500 million has been released for establishment of Cold Storage Facility at Turbat, Ketch. I hope the farmers of the area will greatly benefit from this facility and enhance their incomes.
I have mentioned only a few out of 142 development projects being supported through Federal Development Program. A number of projects are being implemented in Balochistan with technical and financial assistance from development partners. We fully recognize and appreciate their support.
Reko-diq has huge Copper and Gold deposits which will bring in prosperity for the people of Balochistan. Federal Government is determined to give full support to the provincial government to resolve the issue of Reko-diq at the earliest and to start the project in the shortest possible time.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Post 9/11 events presented huge security challenges to Pakistan. Terrorism has taken a toll of tens of thousands of human lives and caused a loss to our economy of over $100 billion. The financial resources which could have been spent on development, especially on schools and health centers for better quality of life of people, had to be diverted to security. As you all are fully aware, the government is determined to wipe-out terrorism in all its shades and hues and has adopted a zero-tolerance policy against terrorists. Our Operation Zarb e Azab and allied counter-terrorism initiatives across Pakistan are guided by these principles. We will leave no stone unturned to make sure that all areas of Pakistan, particularly, FATA, KPK and Baluchistan, are cleansed of all kinds of terrorists, militants and violent extremists. Pakistan will neither allow anyone to use its territory against any other country nor would tolerate if terrorists use foreign soil for the terrorist activities in Pakistan.
We are confident that our counter-terrorism policy and operation will better the already positive investment climate and economic-turnaround sentiment. Indeed, Insha Allah, Balochistan, as region, is going to be the biggest beneficiary of this positive change.
Here it is important to stress that both the Federal and the Provincial Governments are doing all they must to ensure growth and development and peaceful environment in Balochistan. However, as the developmental gaps are huge, it is imperative that synergies are created by development partners, civil society and foreign and local investors to give new impetus to the developmental efforts. I hope that this development forum will generate rich and valuable inputs for strategy formulation and support mechanisms for its implementation.
I congratulate the provincial government and the Chief Minister for organizing Balochistan Development Forum, and appreciate efforts and hard work of the organizers.