ISLAMABAD: Rural development projects will help in alleviating poverty and uplifting the living standards of people through new employment opportunities, said Federal Minister for Economic Affairs, Omar Ayub Khan.

Chairing a high-level meeting of the National Coordination Committee on Foreign-Funded Projects on Wednesday, the minister said that the development projects would transfer cash from urban to rural areas. The meeting reviewed the progress on development projects being implemented by the Punjab government.

Currently, a total of 26 projects costing $6 billion were under implementation by Punjab in the areas of agriculture and irrigation, energy, road and transport, urban development, tourism, climate change and disaster management, education, health and social protection.

Those projects were funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), World Bank, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), China, Japan, France and the United Kingdom, according to a statement.

The minister lauded the efforts of the provincial government for expediting the implementation of foreign-funded projects. Reviewing the progress, the committee specifically emphasized the need for focusing on six slow-moving projects

These projects included the Jalalpur irrigation project, Punjab intermediate cities improvement investment project, enhancing public-private partnerships in Punjab project, tourism growth project, installation of weather surveillance radar in Multan, agriculture and rural transformation programme.

The minister underlined that the Jalalpur irrigation project would contribute to food security and economic growth through enhanced productivity of agricultural commodities. Under this project, new irrigation canals (of 200 km) were being constructed in Pind Dadan Khan and Khushab, which would directly benefit over 200,000 rural people, he said.

The minister was informed that the project was initially delayed due to land acquisition, however, its implementation was picking up pace and it would be completed by the first quarter of 2024.