LAHORE: The government of Pakistan should consider establishing a specific China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) unit within the framework of Council of Common Interests (CCI) to manage the project with transparency and efficiency, recommended eminent policymakers.
They also said that CPEC offers a unique opportunity to boost development and economic growth in Pakistan on a sustainable basis, however, its initial focus and priority on the eastern corridor should not delay the proposed development of western and central corridors too. The project should ensure economic uplift of backward areas.
The Institute of Public Policy launched its 10th Annual Report titled ‘The State of the Economy: CPEC Review and Analysis’ by Shahid Javed Burki on Monday. The report stated that proper planning of the four proposed functional zones was essentially imperative for harnessing the comparative and competitive advantage of each zone based on agro and other value chains.
Speaking at the launch ceremony, Burki, who is a renowned economist, said that the Chinese-funded programme has not yet fully been defined and developed. “To realise its full potential, the large CPEC programme must have the support of all the citizens,” he said.
Burki said that although the project was touted as a game changer, it will add possibly 2% to the growth rate of Pakistan’s GDP. The project will bring greater integration of Pakistan’s backward areas into those that are more developed. “It will also link Pakistan with the global economic system from which it has remained relatively detached.”
Speaking on the occasion, former State Bank of Pakistan governor Ishrat Husain said that on the CPEC route there are many initiatives, like the western corridor, that the government is undertaking through its own Public Sector Development Programme.
“Total investment China has announced under CPEC is merely 8% of Pakistan’s GDP,” he said.
Husain further said “we Pakistanis are very good in making bad news out of positive initiatives. We should not accept false hopes through this project as in the case of industrial zones, which are in infancy, so we are just anticipating about industrial zones.”
The former central bank governor was of the view that the greatest hope through CPEC should be advancement in technology and human development.
“China is much advanced in technology and human development whereas Pakistan is lagging far behind in these two categories,” said Husain, adding, “for future competition among nations, it will be human resources and technology which will matter as natural resources like oil and other things will become secondary.”
Pakistan’s former foreign secretary Shamshad Ahmad said that CPEC as a whole comprises investments of around $160 billion and will connect Asia with Europe.
He said that this project is of immense importance so we should deal with it accordingly. “We have to implement the project with an undertaking and with an autonomous authority, which bypass bureaucratic hurdles,” Ahmad added.
“It should be completed as nations’ core economic programme and our politicians should remain out of this project, otherwise CPEC may become another Kalabagh dam for Pakistan.”
Published in The Express Tribune, March 13th, 2018.