Balochistan needs Economic Affairs Ministry

Published on – June 12, 2017 – 3:00 am

QUETTA: The past Governments in several decades had made mess of the things concerning economics or economic planning in Balochistan and they wasted all the money and resources available for development.

QUETTA: The past Governments in several decades had made mess of the things concerning economics or economic planning in Balochistan and they wasted all the money and resources available for development.

The culture of ‘cut and paste’ was introduced in planning preparing fictitious and junk documents in the name of economic development. The most incompetent people were assigned the task development to this date.

There are thousands of ‘on-going schemes’ for years and years in the name of development. In the recent past, MPAs were found selling their schemes in return for 20 per cent commission from the contractor or an autonomous body of the Balochistan Government.

At one stage in recent past, there were more funds available with the Balochistan Development Authority (BDA) than the Government of Balochistan or its Planning and Development Department.  BDA accumulated huge funds by purchasing the schemes from the MPAs who sold the scheme on payment of 20 percent cost of the project.

Rulers or the chosen representatives of the people were found disapproving economic development through planned and calculated efforts. Whatever planning was done in the past, it was all Federal Projects or the schemes visualized and financed by friendly countries, international donors and the international development Finance institutions.

Even the costly debt of the highly centralized Government of Pakistan was retired by the Asian Development Bank in a planned manner and in phases. The purpose was to save resources for financing the development projects in Balochistan. Ironically, the ADB interfered in Pakistan fiscal matter to bail out Balochistan from the costly Federal loans

The Central Government was reluctant to provide relief to the most backward province of Balochistan where poverty is rampant.  The then Central Government had adopted a hostile attitude towards Balochistan and refused to provide any financial relief to the province and recovered the principal amount along with interest on commercial or market rates.

Thus the Provincial Government is compelled to adopt a more dynamic economic policy for development seeking world help on the pattern of the Province of Punjab. The Punjab Chief Minister, with the help of the Federal Government, had succeeded in bringing in direct investment of around 50 billion dollar during the past few years. He played the role of an agent to the Federal Government in negotiating loans, direct investment and other benefits from the international development finance institutions, friendly countries, including China and Turkey and world donors financing socio-economic or welfare projects in a big way.

The Chief Minister of Balochistan should adopt the same pattern and demand similar facilities and services from the Foreign Office and the Economic Affairs Division seeking Direct Foreign Investment, donations and soft loans for massive development of Balochistan.

First of all, the Balochistan Government should create a separate Economic Affairs Ministry where a big pool of experienced people, preferably locals, should be created to run the affairs of the new economic Ministry for future planning and development.

The existing Planning and development  section should be allowed to function parallel to the newly established Economic Affairs Ministry which should made responsible for running big economic projects, including copper and gold mines, building a huge steel mills and developing metal industries in a big way.

These projects worth trillion of US dollars for which the Government should chalk out a plan before the Saindak Copper and Gold Mine is handed over back to the Provincial Government under the 18th Amendment.

The Provincial Government can easily link up the Reko Dik Project with Saindak expanding its production capacity in a big way. For this, the Balochistan Government should hire experts of world fame in operating the huge metal mining complex of trillion of US dollar. The Balochistan Government should not only own the projects but also operate it barring all foreigners, including the multi-national companies. In any case the Chinese should be sent home from Saindak Project at the end of present contract.

Even the Balochistan Government had been hiring technocrats and consultants from the international market seeking their specialized services in different field. Recently, the Balochistan Government was involved in rehabilitating the Pasni Fish Harbour for which a foreign consultant was hired by the Provincial Government with an approval from Islamabad.

Thus it is easy for the Government of Balochistan to bring a team of experts, technocrats and specialists operating the prestigious economic projects in metal industry, operating oil and gas establishment and better use of natural gas for production of fertilizer instead of burning as a fuel substitute to cars for the benefit of millionaires who own cars but demanding cheap fuel of CNG.

Iran is operating a copper and gold mine in the neighbourhood of Iranian Balochistan and the Provincial Government can seek help from the brotherly country in establishing a refinery separating gold from blister copper at home needing not to transport the finished products to China for the separation of gold, copper and other precious metals.

Deepwater Gwadar Port will prove to be a bigger challenge to operate on the demand from the international market forces and Balochistan needing a big team of skilled people to operate the Port and its affiliated industrial and commercial units for export and imports of goods from the Mekran Coast.

Gwadar deepwater port is capable of earning more than 10 billion US dollars a year facilitating the bulk transit trade between the landlocked countries of Central Asia, including Afghanistan, and rest of the world.

In the past, Asian Development Bank had offered an investment of 11.5 billion US dollar in mid-1990s for development basic infrastructure of Gwadar deepwater Port. The ADB wanted to link the port with the railroad system of Central Asia.

Vested interests in Pakistan and Afghanistan sabotaged that ADB offer and presumably the offer must be there in the file and available for the Government to use it in near future, if it desires so. Emerging markets of East Asia were found deeply interested in such an infrastructure between Gwadar and the Central Asian countries to promote trade among the countries in a big way.

Iran can also get benefit from this facility by linking Chah Bahar Port with this infrastructure development projects earning its size of share from the Gwadar-Chah Bahar corridor for development and connectivity.

Since Mekran Coast is vast and spread over to more than 3000 kilometers from Karachi to the Straits of Hormuz, there is a wide scope for shipbuilding in the entire West Asia region. There was proposal from some European countries to the Government of Pakistan for constructing a ship-building yard close to the Gwadar Port.

The EU proposals never demanded any finances from the Government of Pakistan. It simply said that land and part of the sea where the ship-building yard is being developed will be the contribution from the Pakistan Government.

The EU proposal for constructing a ship-building yard near Gwadar in kept in the cold storage of the Planning Commission and the Federal Government had no courtesy to respond to the offer made by a consortium of European countries.

Sense a cold response from Pakistan, Iranian had made their own proposal to construct a ship-building yard in the neighbourhood of Gwadar or Chah Bahar with the help from an East Asian country.