Dawood appointed CPEC Business Council chairman

Decision may stir controversy as earlier it was decided planning minister will be the head

Shahbaz Rana March 30, 2019
Abdul Razak Dawood. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: In a move that may stir another controversy, the government has appointed Abdul Razak Dawood as chairman of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Business Council and an executive of his company - Descon Engineering - as member of the council.

The decision to appoint Dawood as chairman is also contrary to the original decision of the Cabinet Committee on CPEC. In its meeting held on March 12, the committee had decided that Minister for Planning, Development and Reform Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar would be the chairman of the CPEC Business Council.

Dawood is Adviser to Prime Minister on Commerce, Textile, Industry, Production and Investment.

The adviser will be the chairman of the CPEC Business Council and the minister for planning will be the co-chairman, according to a notification issued by the Board of Investment (BOI) this week.

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The Cabinet Committee on CPEC had approved a 21-member CPEC Business Council. However, the BOI has notified a 25-member council. There are seven members from the public sector and 18 from the private sector, showed the notification.

One of the private-sector members is Adnan Bakhtiar, Head of Infrastructure Division of Descon, according to the notification.

Descon is owned by Dawood and has recently won contract for the construction of Rs309-billion Mohmand Dam. After criticism by political parties and the civil society, Dawood had said he was neither chairman nor director of Descon, but was only a shareholder.

The BOI’s decision to appoint Descon’s head of infrastructure division as a member could stir another controversy for the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

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“The CPEC Business Council membership list was jointly prepared by the adviser to PM on commerce and the federal planning minister,” said BOI Chairman Haroon Sharif, while distancing himself from the list.

The government had constituted the CPEC Business Forum in order to create an interface with the business community. Addressing a press conference after meeting of the Cabinet Committee on CPEC, the planning minister said a link between government institutions and business community had been missing since the inception of CPEC.

In the same press conference, Bakhtiar while responding to a question by The Express Tribune had said that the Business Forum would be chaired by the federal minister for planning.

During the Cabinet Committee on CPEC meeting, some members had raised the questions over the need for constituting yet another business forum when there was already PM’s Business Leaders Council, according to the government sources who had attended the meeting. The multiple bodies set up by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government were creating confusions among the investors.

According to the Rules of Business 1973, the industry is the subject of the Ministry of Industries and Production. Since the BOI and National Development and Reforms Commission of China are co-chairmen of Industrial Cooperation, the BOI is dealing with the issue.

Initially, the planning ministry did not take the BOI into confidence before proposing the CPEC Business Forum for the approval of the Cabinet Committee on CPEC. Now, in the revised list, the BOI chairman and BOI secretary are the members of the Council.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 30th, 2019.

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