Success of CPEC linked to job opportunities for Pakistanis

ISLAMABAD: The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) can only become a success if jobs are provided to the local people and Chinese companies are made bound to do businesses through joint ventures.

Transfer of technology should also be ensured otherwise local people would never be benefited by the CPEC projects. Moreover, there should be equal opportunities for Chinese and local companies to do business.

These views were expressed by participants of an event, “Rural Development and Industrialisation in Pakistan” organised by Rural Development Foundation (RDF) at Islamabad Club on Monday.

Representative of Rural Support Programmes Network (RSPN) Dr Abdur Rehman Cheema said though people of rural areas wanted jobs but he was doubtful if the Chinese companies would provide jobs to them.

Experts say Chinese companies should be made bound to do businesses through joint ventures

“Chinese companies completed projects worth $16 billion in different countries but employed 40,000 Chinese labourers on those projects. We need to make sure that it should not happen in Pakistan,” he said.

However, speaking about the positive points of the partnership with China, Dr Cheema said China focuses on financial issues and has no political interests.

He suggested that CPEC must aim to benefit local people.

Assistant Professor at Comsats University Dr Tahir Mumtaz Awan said the ‘One belt and one road’ was a project aimed at integration of 60 countries and five continents.

“It is a new Silk Route but the problem is local communities might not be integrated. Despite this, it is hoped that because of CPEC Gwadar will become more developed than Dubai. However, we should retain our land and suggest the Chinese to do businesses through joint ventures rather than pushing us to sell our assets such as land. Moreover, transfer of technology should also be ensured,” he said.

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Former ambassador to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Dr Manzoor Ahmed said things were changed rapidly because of CPEC. He said a few years ago Pakistan was losing eight to 10 billion dollars every year due to power shortage but because of CPEC the energy crisis was addressed.

“Moreover, tremendous development has been made in infrastructure. A number of roads are constructed due to which travel duration has reduced by half of the time. However, I have concerns that a number of statutory regulatory orders (SROs) have been issued allowing Chinese companies to bring machinery and equipment free of tax. There should be similar exemptions for the local businessmen otherwise they will not be able to compete. I also suggest that steps should be taken to increase the per acre yield of crops,” he said.

Deputy Chief of Party USAID-TDEA Rashid Chaudhry said because of a decision of the Federal Shariat Court, Pakistan had lost an opportunity for land reforms.

Representative of Food and Agriculture Organisation Farrukh Toirov said by 2050 population of the globe would reach nine to 10 billion so agriculture products have to be increased by almost 60 per cent.

“Though 60pc population of Pakistan lives in rural areas small sizes of farms will be an issue as it would be difficult to increase the per acre yield,” he said.

Earlier, Deputy Director RDF Sanaa Khetran said fundamental rights of farmers and those connected to agriculture should be secured and safeguarded and an environment of trust should be maintained.

First Secretary at the embassy of China Jia Wei was the chief guest but he did not address the participants.

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Talking to Dawn, Mr Wei said CPEC had entered into the second phase.

“In the first phase, focus was on infrastructure and now in the second phase the focus is on industrialisation. Industrial zones are being built across the country and I hope more investment will come to Pakistan as Prime Minister Imran Khan has signed more MoUs during his visit to China,” he said.

Published in Dawn, April 30th, 2019

Author: Ikram Junaidi

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