The government on Friday quelled reports that work on multibillion-dollar strategic China-Pakistan Economic Corridor initiative has been facing delays.
Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar said the country’s security threat level is currently elevated due to developments on CPEC and the situation in Afghanistan.
Umar, along with Special Assistant to Prime Minister on CPEC Affairs Khalid Mansoor, addressed a hurriedly-called news conference to clear smoke after proceedings of a Senate committee implied that the country was not interested in taking forward CPEC.
“Security threat is elevated than before and the reasons are CPEC development and the situation in Afghanistan,” said Umar, while responding to a question. The minister added that Prime Minister Imran Khan was keeping an eye on the developing security situation.
Responding to another question, the minister said that the much-delayed meeting of the Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) of CPEC would be held “very soon”.
Earlier on Thursday, Mansoor had said that the Chinese embassy had conveyed “September 23 and 24 as the dates for holding the 10th meeting of JCC”.
The 10th JCC meeting is seen as critical for what is called re-energising CPEC, making its Long-Term Plan 2017-30 effective and to address issues being faced by Chinese companies, working on CPEC projects, including a delay in clearing their power generation dues.
Diplomatic sources have said that the Chinese embassy was making all-out efforts to make sure that this time the JCC meeting is held, although they did not give a specific date. The last JCC meeting was held in November 2019.
Umar advised the opposition parties to avoid doing politics on CPEC and took credit for continuing work on the multibillion dollar initiative during the past three years. “It is incorrect to say that work on the CPEC has been halted,” he said.
The minister said that during the PML-N government the 3,340 megawatts energy projects had been completed. During the PTI tenure, the work on 5,864 MW projects either completed or will be completed soon. He did not share the number of energy projects that had actually been completed.
He also shared details of various road projects that according to him were mostly completed during the PTI tenure but were started during the PML-N tenure. During the PML-N tenure 394 kilometres long CPEC roads were completed while this number was 413 kms for the PTI tenure, he claimed.
Umar also took credit for initiating work on the western route of the CPEC, which he rightly said had been ignored during the PML-N tenure. He claimed that the work on the second phase of the CPEC began during the past two years.
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However, he did not share progress on the possibility of signing an Industrial Framework Agreement with China and an incentive package for Chinese investors to bring them to Pakistan.
The minister said that about $16 billion CPEC projects had so far been completed and $10 billion schemes were under process. However, many schemes were falling behind schedules, enough to irritate the Chinese authorities.
For instance, necessary facilities of fresh water treatment and supply project is still 60% completed, according to the information shared with the Senate Standing Committee on Planning and Development.
The Pak-China Friendship Hospital and the Technical and Vocational Institute in Gwadar, financed by grant are 90 % and 10 % completed, respectively.
SAPM Mansoor had informed the Senate committee about the issues faced by the investors in terms of compliance with Investment and agreement of CPEC – Phase 1 power projects, including payment of IPPs, long outstanding over dues, establishment of revolving account and WHT on sponsors’ dividends increased post investment to 25 % from 7.5 %. These issues were irritating Chinese investors and the officials.
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