CPEC to be completed at all costs, says Imran


The Newspaper’s Staff Reporter Updated July 04, 2020

Prime Minister Imran Khan said the gigantic multi-faceted initiative would guarantee a bright future for the nation. — PM Imran’s Instagram/File

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan vowed on Friday that the government would complete the ambitious China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project at any cost and pass its benefits to the nation.

The corridor is a manifestation of Pakistan-China friendship and the government will complete it at any cost and bring its fruit to every Pakistani,” the prime minister said at a meeting held to review progress on the CPEC projects.

Terming the CPEC an excellent project for the country’s socio-economic development, Mr Khan said the gigantic multi-faceted initiative would guarantee a bright future for the nation.

Lauding the performance of CPEC Authority, the prime minister said measures must be taken to improve its working as well as capacity.

Article continues after ad

The prime minister was briefed about the status of ongoing projects under the giant initiative.

Asks provincial governments to upgrade master plans of major cities

Federal Ministers Asad Umar, Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar and Omar Ayub, Commerce Adviser Abdul Razak Dawood, CPEC Authority Chairman retired Lt Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa and senior officers of the organisations concerned attended the meeting.

CPEC is a collection of infrastructure and other projects under construction throughout Pakistan since 2013. Originally valued at $46 billion, the CPEC projects were worth $62bn as of 2017.

The vast initiative is intended to rapidly upgrade Pakistan’s required infrastructure and strengthen its economy by the construction of modern transportation networks, numerous energy projects and special economic zones.

In November of 2016, CPEC became partly operational when Chinese cargo was transported overland to Gwadar port for onward maritime shipment to Africa and West Asia, while some major power projects were commissioned by late 2017.

The potential impact of the massive initiative on Pakistan has been compared to that of the Marshall Plan undertaken by the United States in post-war Europe. The initiative has entered a new phase after the coming into power of the government led by Mr Khan.

Master plans of cities

At another meeting the prime minister directed provincial governments to upgrade master plans of major cities to provide the best civic amenities to the populace.

Due to ill-planned growth in major cities, the environment had deteriorated and people were facing multiple problems, Mr Khan observed.

As a result of a mushroom growth, green belts are vanishing… Master plans should be amended and upgraded keeping in view the changing circumstances.”

Prime Minister Khan said the main objective behind incentives being given by the government to the construction sector was to create job opportunities.

He advised provincial governments to use the latest technology so that master plans of major cities were upgraded as soon as possible.

The prime minister said a roadmap should be devised within a week to give final shape to the master plans.

The meeting was attended by PM’s Adviser on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam, Member of National Assembly Khayal Zaman, chairman of the Naya Pakistan Housing Authority and the housing secretary while provincial chief secretaries participated through video link.

The prime minister directed the authorities concerned at yet another meeting to improve facilities in Panahgahs (shelters) for the poor.

He gave these directives while presiding over a meeting on the government’s flagship initiative — the Ehsaas programme.

Published in Dawn, July 4th, 2020

Source; Dawn “CPEC to be completed at all costs, says Imran”

Note: This is Dawn’s report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


A Tripartite Agreement of $2.4 billion Kohala Hydropower Project under CPEC signed today


June 25, 2020

A major milestone towards the successful implementation of 1,124MW Kohala Hydropower Project in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) under CPEC framework is achieved as a Tripartite Agreement signing ceremony between a Chinese company, governments of Pakistan and AJK held today. Prime Minister Imran Khan witnessed signing ceremony and said US $ 2.4 billion investment in Kohala Hydropower project under CPEC is the biggest Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Pakistan. The other projects signed included 700MW Azad Pattan hydropower project, 300MW Ashkot hydropower project, 640MW Mahl hydropower project, 450MW Athmuqam hydropower project, 82MW Turtonas-Uzghor hydropower project, 163MW Grange Power. Ltd.

PM further asserted the Kohala Hydropower project will promote regional development and uplift the socio-economic status of people in AJK by creating more jobs. The project would create clean energy, environmental benefits and reduce dependence on furnace oil import which creates current account deficit. Chairman CPEC authority Lt. Gen. (R) Asim Saleem Bajwa has said that it is the largest power sector investment of $2.4 billion in a single Independent Power Producer (IPP).

Prime Minister’s commitment to expedite work on CPEC projects and hard work of all stakeholders has played a significant role to achieve this milestone.

Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Information Lt Gen (r) Asim Saleem Bajwa revealed on Thursday that the tripartite agreement signing ceremony for Kohala Hydel Power Project will be held today.

SAPM Bajwa said that it was a “historic day” as it is the largest power sector investment of $2.4 billion in a single Independent Power Producer (IPP).

“With PM Imran’s clear direction to expedite CPEC projects,all stake holders worked hard to bring this day,” tweeted SAPM Bajwa on Thursday.

The work on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) funded Kohala Hydropower Project has been in jeopardy since last year as the Chinese contractor has been demobilised following controversy over downstream environmental flows.

The 1,124MW (megawatt) Kohala Hydropower Project, being built on Jhelum River in Azad Kashmir under CPEC, has been awarded to Kohala Hydropower Company Ltd (KHCL), which is a subsidiary of China Three Gorges Corporation (CTGC).

Jun 25 (APP): A tripartite agreement was signed here Thursday between a Chinese company and the governments of Pakistan and China for construction of 1,124 megawatt Kohala Hydropower Project costing $2.4 billion.

The signing ceremony, held at PM Office, was witnessed by Prime Minister Imran Khan, Azad Jammu and Kashmir Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider, federal cabinet members, Chinese Ambassador in Pakistan Yao Jing, China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) authority, Chairman Lt. Gen. (R) Asim Saleem Bajwa and representatives of Chinese company.

It is the largest power sector investment of $2.4 billion in a single Independent Power Producer (IPP).

Kohala Hydropower Project, being built on Jhelum River in Azad Kashmir under CPEC, has been awarded to Kohala Hydropower Company Ltd (KHCL), which is a subsidiary of China Three Gorges Corporation (CTGC).

Addressing the signing ceremony, the prime minister while terming the agreement a “great step” towards foreign investment, said Pakistan should have invested in hydro power sector far earlier.

He said the country was progressing well when it had been producing hydro power until it started banking on imported fuel which not only made the local industry non-competitive but also put additional burden on foreign reserves.

The prime minister said the power generation through imported fuel generation also adversely impacted the environment as Pakistan was among nine countries to get worst hit by climate change which necessitated the promotion of clean energy.

The prime minister said Kohala Hydropower Power Project drew the biggest ever investment in Pakistan on a single project.

Pakistan welcomed the investment as it could also set a trend for the country Pakistan to further move towards clean energy for reducing dependence on imported fuel.

The prime minister told the AJK prime minister that the project would also create much-needed jobs for youth both during the construction as well as the operations.

Source: epecinfo.com “A Tripartite Agreement of $2.4 billion Kohala Hydropower Project under CPEC signed today”

Note: This is cpecinfo.com’s report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


Pak approves $7.2 bn railway line upgradation project under CPEC


The approval by the key government body has set the stage for the final negotiations with China for financing the project and talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to address its concern over a big loan from Beijing.

By: PTI | Islamabad | Updated: June 7, 2020 4:22:45 pm

The Central Development Working Party (CDWP) on Saturday approved the Pakistan Railways’ Mainline-I (ML-1) Project, The Express Tribune reported. (Source: Wikimedia Commons/Representational)

Pakistan has approved the strategic USD 7.2 billion railway line upgradation project between Peshawar and Karachi under the CPEC, paving the way for the final negotiations with China for the finance, a media report said on Sunday.

The approval of the project to upgrade the 1,872 km-long railway track from Peshawar to Karachi is a big milestone for the second phase of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), said Lieutenant General (retired) Asim Saleem Bajwa, chairman of the CPEC Authority.

The Central Development Working Party (CDWP) on Saturday approved the Pakistan Railways’ Mainline-I (ML-1) Project, The Express Tribune reported.

The approval by the key government body has set the stage for the final negotiations with China for financing the project and talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to address its concern over a big loan from Beijing.

Pakistan will also have to seek relaxations from the IMF, as under the existing deal with the global financial body, it does not have space to provide sovereign guarantees to the tune of Rs 1.2 trillion (USD 7.2 billion), the report said.

It was for the fourth time that the project came before the CDWP for approval. The CDWP considered the project for the first time in 2016.

After the approval, the project would go to the Executive Committee of National Economic Council for further approval, the Ministry of Planning said.

It would be finally approved by the Cabinet but the initial approval of the CDWP is considered as a key for any big project.

Once completed, the speed of passenger trains will increase from 65/110 km/h to 160 km/h on the track.

The speed of the freight trains will also increase to 120km/h from 80 kilometer per hour.

The package-1 of the ML-I will be completed between January 2021 to December 2024 and will cover the construction of 527 km-long track between Peshawar, Rawalpindi and Lahore.

Package 2 will be completed from January 2022 to December 2026 and will upgrade 521 km-long track from Lahore to Hyderabad while package 3 will upgrade the 740 km-track of Rawalpindi-Peshawar and Hyderabad-Multan.

Pakistan gives high priority to the ML-1 project due to its strategic importance and the CDWP’s clearance will also pave the way for its inauguration by Chinese President Xi Jinping’s expected visit to the country this year, the report said.

Earlier, the Pakistan Railways proposed the construction of the project at a cost of USD 9.2 billion. However, the transport and communication wing of the planning ministry reduced the cost by USD 2 billion, the report said.

However, the World Bank linked the success of the project to bringing governance reforms in the railways and warned that the project’s debt servicing was not sustainable, the paper added.

The multi-billion dollar CPEC is a planned network of roads, railways and energy projects linking China’s resource-rich Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region with Pakistan’s strategic Gwadar Port on the Arabian Sea.

The project was launched in 2015 when Chinese President Xi visited Pakistan and it now envisages investment of over USD 60 billion in different projects of development in Pakistan.

India has objected to the CPEC as it is being laid through the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

Source: The Indian Express “Pak approves $7.2 bn railway line upgradation project under CPEC”

Note: This is The Indian Express’ article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the article’s views.


China to construct 1,124-megawatt power project in Pok under CPEC


The details of the Kohala hydropower project was presented in the 127th meeting of the Private Power and Infrastructure Board (PPIB) chaired by Energy Minister Omar Ayub on Monday.

Updated: Jun 02, 2020 15:32 IST

Press Trust of India | Posted by Niyati Singh

Islamabad

Photo Pok

China under the multi-billion-dollar CPEC will set up a 1,124-megawatt power project in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir despite India’s objection to it, according to a media report on Tuesday.(File photo)

China under the multi-billion-dollar CPEC will set up a 1,124-megawatt power project in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir despite India’s objection to it, according to a media report on Tuesday.

The details of the Kohala hydropower project was presented in the 127th meeting of the Private Power and Infrastructure Board (PPIB) chaired by Energy Minister Omar Ayub on Monday.

The Express Tribune reported that the meeting was informed that a tripartite agreement has been finalised among China’s Three Gorges Corporation, the authorities in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) and the PPIB to implement the 1,124-megawatt Kohala hydroelectric power project under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) framework.

The project will be built on the Jhelum River and aims at annually providing more than five billion units of clean and low-cost electricity for consumers in Pakistan.

The paper further reported that this marks one of the largest investments of USD 2.4 billion in an independent power producer (IPP) in the region.

The 3,000-km-long CEPC is aimed at connecting China and Pakistan with rail, road, pipelines and optical cable fiber networks. It connects China’s Xinjiang province with Pakistan Gwadar port, providing access to China to the Arabian Sea.

The CPEC passes through PoK, over which India has conveyed its protests to China.

Last month, India protested to Pakistan awarding a mega contract to build a dam in Gilgit-Baltistan, saying carrying out of such projects in territories under Pakistan’s illegal occupation was not proper.

The Pakistan government has signed a whopping Rs 442 billion contract with a joint venture of a Chinese state-run firm and a commercial arm of Pakistan’s powerful military for construction of the Diamer-Bhasha dam.

Our position is consistent and clear that entire territory of the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh have been, are and will continue to be integral and inalienable part of India,” the Ministry of External Affairs said in New Delhi last month.

We have consistently conveyed our protests and shared concerns with both Pakistan and China on all such projects in the Indian territories under Pakistan’s illegal occupation,” it said.

Ayub, a grandson of former military ruler Ayub Khan, in his remarks, lauded the infrastructure board for playing a crucial role in optimising hydroelectric power generation.

He said the government was determined to ensure long-term energy sustainability and reliability for which renewable energy, hydroelectric power and indigenous coal-based projects were being prioritised.

Source: Hindustan Times “China to construct 1,124-megawatt power project in Pok under CPEC”

Note: This is Hindustan Times’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


Coronavirus Pakistan Business Opinion Culture Sport Magazines World Tech Prism Diamer-Bhasha dam ready for construction, PM Imran told Sanaullah KhanMay 11, 2020 Facebook Count Twitter Share 119 The premier was informed about the progress of all pending issues related to the project’s construction. — PM Khan’s Instagram/File Prime Minister Imran Khan was informed on Monday that all the prep work for the Diamer-Bhasha dam has been completed and the project was ready for construction. Taking to Twitter, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting retired Lt Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa called the announcement “historic news”. He said: “Announcing to start construction of Diamer-Bhasha dam today is historic news for all generations of Pakistan. A huge stimulus for our economy, [will] create 16,500 jobs, generate 4,500 MW hydel power and irrigate 1.2 m acres agri land, enhance Tarbela dam’s age by 35 years.” Article continues after ad Chairing today’s briefing on national water security strategy and the construction of dams to meet the country’s agricultural and energy requirements, the premier was informed about the progress of all pending issues related to the dam’s construction. The premier expressed satisfaction over the progress made so far and directed authorities concerned to begin construction work on the dam. “Ensuring water security is the government’s first priority,” he said, according to a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office. “In addition to ensuring the optimum utilisation of available water resources for agricultural needs, the construction of dams will help meet energy requirements at affordable rates.” The prime minister directed that local materials and expertise be used during construction to provide the people with ample job opportunities. According to the statement, during today’s meeting, PM Imran was informed that “all issues related to this critically important project, including settlement, detailed roadmap for mobilisation of financial resources etc. have been resolved and the project was ready for commencement of physical work”. The meeting was informed that Diamer-Bhasha dam had remained in limbo for decades due to various reasons. “The construction of the dam will create 16,500 jobs and utilise a large quantity of cement and steel which will boost our industry, in addition to its main purpose of water storage and producing 4,500 MW of cheap and affordable electricity,” the press release said. “The 6.4 million acre feet (MAF) water storage capacity of the dam will reduce the current water shortage in the country of 12 MAF to 6.1 MAF. It will add 35 years to the life of Tarbela dam by reducing sedimentation. An area of 1.23 million acres of land will be brought under agriculture [use] due to this dam,” it added. The meeting was also informed that Rs78.5 billion will be spent on the area around the dam for its social development as part of the project. “[The dam] will also be a major source of flood mitigation and save billions in damages caused by floods each year,” the statement added. The chairman of Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) also briefed the meeting about the progress of the recently-commenced construction work that at Mohmand Dam. PM Imran was also informed about the Dasu hydropower project and the progress made so far. “The premier expressed satisfaction over the progress and directed to ensure expeditious commencement of the project,” the statement read. It added that the prime minister was also told that funds have been arranged for Naulong dam in Balochistan and that work on the project will commence next year. The premier stressed the need for starting the Sindh barrage project. “The project has huge benefits in addressing the agriculture needs of the province. It will stop soil erosion and also improve the drinking water situation for urban centres in Sindh,” he said. PM Imran also appreciated the efforts made by the water resources ministry and Wapda in pursuing the projects. He reiterated his emphasis on keeping a close eye on the quality of work and meeting timelines.


The premier was informed about the progress of all pending issues related to the project's construction. — PM Khan's Instagram/File
The premier was informed about the progress of all pending issues related to the project’s construction. — PM Khan’s Instagram/File

Prime Minister Imran Khan was informed on Monday that all the prep work for the Diamer-Bhasha dam has been completed and the project was ready for construction.

Taking to Twitter, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting retired Lt Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa called the announcement “historic news”.

He said: “Announcing to start construction of Diamer-Bhasha dam today is historic news for all generations of Pakistan. A huge stimulus for our economy, [will] create 16,500 jobs, generate 4,500 MW hydel power and irrigate 1.2 m acres agri land, enhance Tarbela dam’s age by 35 years.”

The premier expressed satisfaction over the progress made so far and directed authorities concerned to begin construction work on the dam. “Ensuring water security is the government’s first priority,” he said, according to a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office.

“In addition to ensuring the optimum utilisation of available water resources for agricultural needs, the construction of dams will help meet energy requirements at affordable rates.”

The prime minister directed that local materials and expertise be used during construction to provide the people with ample job opportunities.

According to the statement, during today’s meeting, PM Imran was informed that “all issues related to this critically important project, including settlement, detailed roadmap for mobilisation of financial resources etc. have been resolved and the project was ready for commencement of physical work”.

The meeting was informed that Diamer-Bhasha dam had remained in limbo for decades due to various reasons.

“The construction of the dam will create 16,500 jobs and utilise a large quantity of cement and steel which will boost our industry, in addition to its main purpose of water storage and producing 4,500 MW of cheap and affordable electricity,” the press release said.

“The 6.4 million acre feet (MAF) water storage capacity of the dam will reduce the current water shortage in the country of 12 MAF to 6.1 MAF. It will add 35 years to the life of Tarbela dam by reducing sedimentation. An area of 1.23 million acres of land will be brought under agriculture [use] due to this dam,” it added.

The meeting was also informed that Rs78.5 billion will be spent on the area around the dam for its social development as part of the project. “[The dam] will also be a major source of flood mitigation and save billions in damages caused by floods each year,” the statement added.

The chairman of Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) also briefed the meeting about the progress of the recently-commenced construction work that at Mohmand Dam.

PM Imran was also informed about the Dasu hydropower project and the progress made so far. “The premier expressed satisfaction over the progress and directed to ensure expeditious commencement of the project,” the statement read.

It added that the prime minister was also told that funds have been arranged for Naulong dam in Balochistan and that work on the project will commence next year.

The premier stressed the need for starting the Sindh barrage project. “The project has huge benefits in addressing the agriculture needs of the province. It will stop soil erosion and also improve the drinking water situation for urban centres in Sindh,” he said.

PM Imran also appreciated the efforts made by the water resources ministry and Wapda in pursuing the projects. He reiterated his emphasis on keeping a close eye on the quality of work and meeting timelines.

Source: DAWN “Diamer-Bhasha dam ready for construction, PM Imran told”

Note: This is DAWN’s report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


No compromise on CPEC as it is country’s future: Bajwa


By Our Correspondent ​

Published: May 7, 2020

CPEC Authority Chairman and Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Information Lt-Gen (retd) Asim Saleem Bajwa says emphasis is on agriculture, industries, trade, and science and technology sectors. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD :

CPEC Authority Chairman and Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Information Lt-Gen (retd) Asim Saleem Bajwa has said that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a non-political international project and work for its completion is in progress on a fast pace.

There is no political hindrance in its way. The project is Pakistan’s future as well as a tangible reality and no compromise will be made on it,” the chairman said while talking to a delegation of senior journalists on Wednesday.

Bajwa said Pakistan takes decisions in its interest and there should be no doubt that the CPEC project “is in the best interest of the country”, adding that “no external pressure will be accepted”.

He said that the working plan of both the routes from Khunjrab to Gwadar has been completed and the remaining link routes will be added into the plan in the next few months.

The second phase of this multibillion-dollar project is crucial for the development of the country and construction work will soon be started.”

CPEC phase-II to generate mass employment, industrialisation: Asim Bajwa

Describing the projects in the second phase of CPEC, Bajwa said, “Special emphasis is on agriculture, industries, trade, and science and technology sectors.”

He said that the highest priority was to make functional the economic zones in the four provinces, adding that Gwadar’s development projects were included in the second phase of the CPEC.

He also said that Pak-China Cooperation Committee would soon conduct a conference.

On the locusts’ attack, which is damaging the crops on a large scale in the country, Bajwa said that China would establish a pest control centre in Pakistan.

The quality of seeds is being improved to strengthen the crops against infestation,” Bajwa added.

On the scholarship programme, he said that the headway had been made in the programme. “Twenty thousand Pakistani students will go on scholarships to China.”

Source: Tribune “No compromise on CPEC as it is country’s future: Bajwa”

Note: This is Tribune’s article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the article’s views.


Global consortium plans to pour billions into Pakistan


By Zafar Bhutta

Published: April 14, 2020

ISLAMABAD:

Pakistan may have another financing window that may be almost equal to, if not bigger than, the investment under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as the Global Investment Consortium (GIC) mulls over investing billions of dollars into the country.

The consortium is considering investing up to €50 billion on a public-private partnership basis in different megaprojects like Naya Pakistan Housing Scheme, Reko Diq copper and gold project and Diamer-Bhasha dam and power project at a time when economies around the world are struggling to combat the fallout from Covid-19.

GIC is a more than 200-member consortium comprising hedge funds and investors pouring capital on the basis of engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) and public-private partnership models in emerging markets for infrastructure development. It can raise around €30-50 billion in structured finance for development projects in Pakistan.

The consortium can finance not only major infrastructure projects but also social-sector schemes that are direly needed in these trying times, when most of the world is locked down due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Talking to The Express Tribune, GIC Regional Associate Muhammad Irfan Ali said, “We have been pretty much successful in convincing hedge funds to consider, in principle, raising enormous funds to channel into government projects in Pakistan.”

He said the hedge funds they worked with, though duly regulated, were not typical ones as their associates worked on developing real sectors in emerging countries such as affordable housing, mining, hydroelectric power, pipelines, roads, railroads and so on. They also pump structured money into social development in areas of healthcare, education, ecology, tourism and access to information technology.

He revealed that although a proposal had not yet been discussed with Pakistan government, GIC “has now provided the green light, in principle, to do so”.

He pointed out that funds could be structured in a customised model comprising public-private partnership projects for developing government infrastructure at a pace never seen before in the country, and at a scale, which could be larger than CPEC, if done properly.

The funding, subject to analysis, can be for 25 years at an interest rate of 1.5% per annum or so, with options, as well as concessions, to convert debt into equity in order to mitigate debt burden of the country.

The funding and investment can go up to €50 billion over several years,” he said, adding that innovation in structured finance was the key to success of the ambitious programme while taking cognisance of Pakistan’s particular set of economic, political, foreign policy and national security challenges.

Whatever will be proposed to the government needs to be done with appropriate confidentiality as the regional and global requirement of large funds is very competitive and challenging, especially now with governments around the world trying to cope with the Covid-19 fallout,” he said.

It is somewhat akin to the US president proposing a $2-trillion package to refurbish the dilapidated US infrastructure as spending creates jobs and jump-starts economic activity.

However, the conundrum for Pakistan is the state of the economy, virtual junk rating of its debt, precarious situation of foreign currency reserves, uncertain political will and ongoing bailout packages.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 14th, 2020

Source: The Express Tribune “Global consortium plans to pour billions into Pakistan”

Note: This is The Express Tribue’s article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the article’s views.


CPEC: The ball is in Pakistan’s court


Afshan SubohiUpdated February 10, 2020

China asserts that it is not wavering from its commitment to assist Pakistan in the second, people-centric phase of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). — AP/File

China asserts that it is not wavering from its commitment to assist Pakistan in the second, people-centric phase of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Despite being embroiled in multiple problems — the virus epidemic, growth moderation and trade spat with the United States — the Asian dragon is all set to commit $1 billion in the current calendar year to kick-start the next phase of CPEC.

In an exclusive interaction with Dawn, China’s Consul General in Karachi Li Bijian was open and clear about the mutual relationship and its future. He dismissed the perception that China is disillusioned by the Pakistani leadership and has adopted a wait-and-see strategy before committing support for CPEC’s second phase.

This is a figment of some naïve elements’ imagination. Nothing can be far from the truth. I can confirm that China has helped Pakistan close physical infrastructure gaps in the first phase and wishes to see benefits of this massive investment flowing to Pakistani youth, farmers, labour and disadvantaged segments in the second phase,” he asserted.

He declined to comment on a possible US role in peddling doubts about CPEC and its cost.

We can’t order private investment. We know well it will not be persuasion but the profit expectation and risk coverage that will mobilise them,’ CG Li

The second phase of CPEC is focused on public and private collaboration in industrial, agriculture and social sectors (poverty alleviation, training and research to transform industrial/agriculture sectors to improve productivity and competitiveness). The specifics of commitments for the identified projects have yet to be finalised, but about $1bn is expected to land in the country over the next 11 months.

In the first phase, the thrust was on bridging the physical infrastructure deficit (electricity, logistics and the port). Big-ticket projects close to $21bn in energy, transport infrastructure and Gwadar Port are either complete or about to finish shortly.

Expanding on his argument, the consul general stated: “The relationship between the two countries is not transactional. We are long-term partners who share the common dream for a just and inclusive order that affords decent living standards for all citizens. China chose Pakistan to be the first stop for its One Belt, One Road vision.”

If there was some confusion in the party that assumed power after the 2018 general elections, it has been cleared. We know the current leadership in Pakistan understands and acknowledges CPEC’s value for the country and its future,” he added, putting to rest the perception of deliberate reluctance on either side.

He also mentioned the revised China-Pakistan Free Trade Agreement (FTA) that has added 301 items to the list of articles enjoying duty-free access to the gigantic Chinese market. “It can translate into $6bn worth of additional export from Pakistan to China if the potential of the facility is properly leveraged,” Mr Li elaborated.

To a question regarding little interest among private Chinese companies in relocating their operations in Pakistan, the consul general was not apologetic. He attributed it to a lack of suitable business environment that had de-motivated even local investors.

We can’t order private investment. Yes, we are encouraging companies. We know well that it will not be persuasion but the profit expectation and risk coverage that will mobilise them. We are engaging with the relevant quarters in Pakistan to work out an incentives package for Chinese investors in special economic zones (SEZs).”

About $1bn is expected to land in Pakistan over the next 11 months as part of the second phase of CPEC

Elaborating on multiple factors that influence the decision of Chinese companies about the destination of their overseas investment, he mentioned the low quality of workforce in Pakistan. “Finding workers with required skills was identified as a big challenge by prospective Chinese investors. We intend to initiate more skill training programmes for workers in Pakistan to ensure the availability of employable youth for Chinese companies setting up shop here. Currently, we are setting up one such facility at Gwadar.”

Commenting on the current slump in Chinese funding, the consul general mentioned multiple challenges that his home country is facing. “Taking care of I.4bn- strong population is not a mean challenge in itself, especially when the GDP growth rate has moderated to 6.1 per cent from over 8pc annual average. The global slowdown and trade frictions with the United States are there. The fear of a virus epidemic in a country of high population density has soaked up the government attention. In this environment, China can’t afford to be too generous. Like others, we also need to justify to our people the resources diverted to other countries.”

He said the next Joint Coordination Committee meeting is still on the agenda. “The tradition of top-level exchange of visits will be maintained this year. Such frequent bilateral visits will further promote and strengthen the existing relations and cooperation.”

Experts involved in CPEC-related affairs agree that sometimes China raises issues, but it would be wrong to interpret those as second thoughts on Pakistan. “The problem is on Pakistan’s side. The PTI leadership took long to absorb the value of Chinese support to the economy that is on a slippery slope. All members of the leading team might still not be fully convinced by the official line to make CPEC fly. This, however, has proven to be insufficient.

The Khan government is still struggling to put in place a workable mechanism acceptable to all federating units for implementing the second phase of CPEC,” a well-connected source in Islamabad commented.

Several attempts to reach retired Lt Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa, chairman of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Authority (CPECA), for his input did not succeed.

Zafar Hasan, federal secretary for planning, was upbeat about the future of CPEC. He confirmed that the incentives package for local and Chinese investors in SEZs was in the works in collaboration with Chinese counterparts.

He defended the newly established autonomous authority that he said would be sufficiently empowered and made financially independent to coordinate and streamline dealings with all relevant departments and ministries and lower tiers of the government in CPEC-related projects across Pakistan.

As for the past and present inflow of funds from China, Mr Hasan said working out the exact quantum was a little difficult and involved monetising goods and services associated with CPEC projects. He did not confirm or dismiss the projection of $1bn worth of support in 2020 mentioned by the Chinese consul general.

The intent might be there but the pace of progress is woefully slow. It is almost criminal. The government must immediately remove irritants delaying the arrival of Chinese investment that might ease economic stress through job creation or the strengthening of social protection programmes,” commented a senior officer anonymously.

Published in Dawn, The Business and Finance Weekly, February 10th, 2020

Source: Dawn “CPEC: The ball is in Pakistan’s court”

Note: This is DAWN’s article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the article’s views.


Pakistani PM Prioritizes Implementation of CPEC Projects


PM Khan chairs a meeting. Photo: APP

In its report “PM Imran reviews CPEC progress, directs ministries to fast-track projects” on January 29, Pakistan’s geo.tv says that Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan told officials at a high-level review meeting to ascertain progress on different CPEC projects that the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) should be completed on a fast-track basis.

The report says, “Lauding the time-tested friendship with China, the premier said China had always supported Pakistan during difficult times and the CPEC was a manifestation of the partnership between the two countries” and “‘Chinese experiences in the social sector, especially for the eradication of poverty and promotion of agriculture, must be fully explored,’ the prime minister said, according to the media wing of the PM Office.”

CPEC and the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor are of vital strategic importance in China’s Belt and Road initiative (BRI) as they will provide vital trade routes to China’s west. The BRI railway connections to China’s west through Central Asia and Russia lack volume and are slow and too expensive to accommodate China’s huge volume of trade with Europe, the Middle East and Africa. BRI’s 21st century maritime Silk Road through Pakistan and Myanmar will provide shortcut to bypass the Malacca Strait. The route through CPEC is especially secure due to Iran’s friendship with Russia and China and enmity against the US. Iran may protect China’s trade route there.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on geo.tv’s report, full text of which can be viewed at https://www.geo.tv/latest/269622-pm-imran-reviews-progress-on-cpec-directs-ministries-to-fast-track-projects.


Second phase of CPEC will allow Pakistan to collaborate with 60 other BRI countries


The solutions are available, but it will depend on Pakistan as a nation to set targets and benefit from the given opportunities

By Mahnoor Izhar On Jan 29, 2020

The second phase of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has been launched which will open new doors for Pakistan. Pakistan will be able to collaborate with 60 other countries partnered in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Improved connectivity:

National Agriculture and Food Security in Pakistan’ held a meeting at the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS), where experts said that CPEC would provide the roadmap for further strengthening ties with China and collaborating with 60 other BRI countries.

The Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) Chairman Dr. Muhammad Azeem Khan attended an event held in collaboration with Pakistan Agriculture Scientists Forum (PAS Forum). He said that we have to focus on developing Pakistan’s agriculture sector, which offers enormous prospects of growth and trade by collaborating with partners at the right time.

Agricultural sectors:

Dr. Azeem Khan provided a clear picture of the agricultural industry and insisted that productivity through international trade and affiliation would secure Pakistan’s food security concerns. He also addressed the productivity of various potential sub-sectors of agriculture.

Dr. Azeem pointed out that Pakistan was a food exporting country till 2013 but now has become a food importing country. He said that CPEC’s second phase offers an excellent opportunity to help the agriculture sector to recover.

The solutions are available, but it will depend on Pakistan as a nation to set targets and benefit from the given opportunities.

Many experts at the event spoke on the issue at Pakistan Agriculture Scientists Forum which included University of Haripur Vice-Chancellor (VC) and Pakistan Council for Science and Technology (PCST) ex-chairman Professor Dr. Anwar-ul-Hasan Gilani, Faisalabad University of Agriculture Professor Dr. Amanullah Malik, IPS Executive President Khalid Rahman, and PAS Forum President Dr. Abdul Wakeel.

Experts also emphasized that combinations of different products being produced alongside the CPEC routes boast significant prospects.

There is considerable potential for the production and export of fodder, edible oils, and palm oil, whereas pulses and oilseeds are some other lucrative areas that can be invested in.

Source: blog.siasat.pk “Second phase of CPEC will allow Pakistan to collaborate with 60 other BRI countries”

Note: This is blog.siasat.pk’s article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the article’s views.