ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Planning and Development on Thursday recommended the evaluation of a master plan for erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) to ensure speedy and complete rehabilitation of the area.
Chairing the meeting, Senator Agha Shahzaib Durrani also recommended the authorities concerned to complete the process for the merger of FATA with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) as early as possible. Briefing the committee regarding the agenda of the working and performance of FATA secretariat during the last 10 years, FATA Secretariat secretary informed the committee that the delay in completion of the process was not on part of the FATA Secretariat but it was the responsibility of the federal government to expedite the process.
Senator Usman Kakar said that the road network in the area was not up to the mark and the government should enhance the road network to boost tourism in the area. The FATA Secretariat secretary said that a project of 800-kilometre expressway from Zhob to Bajuar was at feasibility stage and it was hoped that by June this year, the feasibility report would be finalised. The committee directed the planning ministry to include this project in its Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) 2019-20.
The meeting was informed that a motorway project from Peshawar to Torkhum was also in the pipeline which after completion would help to promote tourism in the area. The meeting was further informed that in order to boost the tourism sector, as many as eight state-of-the-art rest houses, were also under construction and would be completed within a year.
Senator Muhammad Afridi said that a number of investors were keen to establish new industries in Bara, however, the FATA Secretariat was not cooperating with them in this regard. The secretary informed that the main issue of the area was the non-availability of electricity and upgradation of the existing grid station in the area had been approved.
Secretary Planning Zafar Hassan informed the committee that Mohmand Marble City located in erstwhile FATA had been made part of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which would enjoy all perks and privileges allocated for other Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in the rest of the country. He said that the government would allow five years of income tax exemptions and zero duty on import of machinery to all investors besides allowing 100 per cent repatriation of profit for foreign investors.
The meeting was informed that at present there were 5,942 educational institutions in the area in which around 35,000 people were employed.