Senate Standing Committee on Planning Development and Reforms in its meeting on Friday was given a briefing by Secretary Planning Development and Reforms on the knowledge economy based projects in the PSDP 2019-20. The meeting was told that a taskforce on knowledge economy was created in December 2018 considering the need to compete in the growingly competitive world economy. 27 projects have been finalised to be taken to PC-I suggest as result of extensive consultation sessions held with the taskforce. The taskforce comprises of voluntary members who have experience of working inside as well as outside Pakistan.
The meeting was held under the chairmanship of Senator Agha Shahzeb Durrani here at the Parliament House and was attended among others by Senators Shaheen Khalid Butt and Hidayatullah, Kauda Babar, Secretary Planning Development and Reform, Chairman NHA s and officials from the Planning Commission.
The projects include Genome sequencing and editing enhancement of plant and animal productivity, Advanced skills development through international scholarships with focus on emerging sciences, establishment of centre for advanced technologies in biomedical materials, establishment of facilities for industrial production of nanomaterials, establishment of national centre for industrial biotechnology, establishment if postgraduate centre for artificial intelligence in agriculture and health sciences, mineral resources assessment for energy storage materials supply chain in Pakistan, Pak-China university of engineering and emerging technologies, national centres of research, innovation entrepreneurship in artificial intelligence and allied technologies phase-I, blended virtual education for knowledge economy, crime analytics and smart policing in Pakistan, demand driven industry quality and capacity enhancement program, e-invoicing including feasibility, establishment of digital complex, establishment of SINO-PAK centre for artificial intelligence, jiddat investment and support fund including feasibility, national centre for IoTs, national expansion plan of NICs including feasibility, national freelance training program, technology marketing export program including feasibility, pilot project for blended e-learning in 500 x schools of federal capital and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, pilot project for STEM teaching grades 8-12, national strategic programme for acquisition of industrial technology.
The Committee suggested that for scholarships instead of going outright on quota basis, there should be a percentage of selection on merit to bring the best possible people. The Committee asked about the element of value addition in all the projects and how will they be different to the work being already done in the country. The Committee was told that CTWP thoroughly analyses the projects in terms of cost benefit analysis as well as the innovation and utility element without approving the projects and many changes and suggestions can be incorporated. The Committee suggested to National Highway Authority to bring their ongoing projects in coordination with the IT related projects of this taskforce to have better results and take benefit from the expertise of this taskforce.
While briefing the Committee on M8 Ratodero to Khuzdar Motorway project, Chairman NHA told the meeting that the motorway is divided into 5 sections with Gwadar-Turbat section, Turbat-Hoshab section, Shahdad Kot-Ratodero section completed. The Khuzdar-Shahdad Kot is completed except 5 kilometers and the Hoshab-huzdar section has now been realigned to Hoshab-Bela and PC-I is under preparation. The initial cost of the project was 24 billion which has now been revised to 34 billion. The Committee expressed concerns regarding the delay in work on uncompleted sections and observed that the uncompleted portion of Khuzdar-Shahdad Kot section is way more than just 5 km.
Discussion on the matter was deferred till the next meeting due to Jummah prayer.