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Poverty-hit areas: ECNEC extends scope of health plan to 11 more districts

ISLAMABAD: The federal government on Tuesday extended the Prime Minister’s National Health Programme to 34 districts despite struggling to fully implement the health insurance scheme in the already approved almost two-dozen poverty-stricken districts of the country.

The Executive Committee of National Economic Council (Ecnec) approved the revised Prime Minister’s National Health Programme Phase-I costing Rs8.2 billion. Overall, the committee approved eight schemes valuing Rs142.6 billion.

The health insurance programme will be implemented in 34 districts all over Pakistan at a rationalised cost of Rs8.2 billion, according to an official statement. Two more districts have been added in each province and special regions.

Last year, the premier had unveiled phase-I of the scheme that promises cashless health services to the poorest. The three-year scheme was initially aimed at extending benefits to people in 23 districts of the country.

However, so far, the scheme has been implemented in only three districts and extending it to further 11 districts without covering earlier approved districts may reduce the number of beneficiaries in these districts due to cost constraints.

The project ensures access to quality health care and especially enhances the coverage and access to secondary and priority treatment for the poor and vulnerable population. The insurance cover will be limited to Rs50,000 per family per annum for secondary care and Rs250,000 per family for priority treatment.

State Life Insurance Corporation is implementing the scheme.

Ecnec also approved revised salary packages for management of the health insurance programme. Instead of management position salaries, the employees will now be entitled to the similar benefits that are available to employees of the Benazir Income Support Programme. Ecnec revised upwards the cost of 1,410-megawatt Tarbela 5th Extension Hydroelectric Power Project to Rs82.3 billion, an addition of over Rs7 billion.

The revised cost is based on a detailed engineering design. The implementation period of the project is four years and the aim is to install three additional power generating units having installed capacity of 470MW each (total 1,410MW) on the existing tunnel-5 without affecting capacity of the irrigation release.

Total installed capacity of the Tarbela Dam after completion of the fifth extension will rise to 6,298MW. Ecnec turned down a proposal to add a new pilot solar power project to the Tarbela site at a cost of Rs3 billion. The committee approved the Renewable Energy Development Sector Investment Programme at an estimated cost of Rs15.8 billion including foreign exchange component of Rs4.9 billion.

The project envisages construction of three hydroelectric power projects with total capacity of 56.2MW including 36.6MW Daral Khawar project, 17MW Ranolia project and 2.6MW Machai project.

Under this programme, three feasibility studies for Koto hydroelectric power project (31MW), Jabori project (8MW) and Karora project (9.8MW) will also be carried out.

Ecnec gave final approval for dualisation and improvement of the Mandra Chakwal Road (64 km) at a revised cost of Rs9.33 billion.

It had already approved the project on the condition that the Ministry of Planning and Development would settle Rs2.1-billion outstanding dues with the National Logistic Cell. The ministry agreed to settle Rs2-billion dues.

Ecnec also approved a proposal of the Balochistan government for changing the executing agency for constructing and upgrading the Dirgi Shabozai (N-70) to Taunsa Sharif (N-55) Road (175 km). The Balochistan Development Authority will be replaced by the Communications and Works Department, Government of Balochistan.

Ecnec had already approved the project in September 2013 at a cost of Rs4,795.98 million. It envisages construction of a 155km-long road.

The project for construction of a six-lane highway from Kala Shah Kaku to Lahore Ring Road including a bridge over Ravi River was also approved at a cost of Rs12.9 billion.

Ecnec approved the Rs9.3-billion Technology Park Development Project for Islamabad. Foreign exchange component worth Rs8 billion will be provided by the Exim Bank of Korea through a soft loan. The project is expected to be completed in four years.

Ecnec also approved the Faculty Development Programme for Pakistani Universities at a rationalised cost of Rs7.1 billion. It is expected to be completed by December 2024.

Courtesy : Express Tribune

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