CPEC in Gwadar to bring prosperity: PM

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday said the construction of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the process of development in Gwadar would create numerous socio-economic opportunities for the people of Balochistan.

He said uplift of the people of Balochistan, specially the technical training of youth, was the foremost priority of the government, adding technical colleges were being opened in Balochistan for skill training of youth in the province.

The prime minister expressed these views while talking to Members of the National Assembly belonging to the Balochistan National Party (BAP) here. Minister for Defence Production Zubaida Jalal, MNAs Sardar Muhammad Israr Tareen, Khalid Hussain Magsi, Ahsanullah Reki and Robina Irfan were present in the meeting, which was also attended by Special Assistant to PM Naeem-ul-Haq, Spokesman to PM Nadeem Afzal Chan, Malik Amir Dogar and Arshad Dad.

During the meeting views were exchanged on the matters relating to problems faced by the people of Balochistan. The prime minister said the federal government was fully cognizant of the problem of scarcity of water, especially potable water, in Balochistan and was in touch with the chief minister to address the issue.

He said there was a need to focus on the utilisation of solar energy to meet energy requirements in the province. Zubaida Jalal apprised the prime minister of the problems of fishermen about the passage way linked with construction of Eastbay Expressway and asked for expansion of the passage way.

The prime minister directed to take measures for resolving the issue. Prime Minister Imran Khan Wednesday said the strengthening of local government system and implementation of finance award was vital to check discrimination of development work in different areas of provinces and ensure the provision of appropriate resources to less developed areas.

He added that there was a strong need to focus on solid waste management in the provinces, especially waste to energy. The prime minister expressed these views while talking to PTI Members of National Assembly from Hazara Division here.

Minister for Energy Umar Ayub Khan, Prince Nawaz Alai, Saleh Muhammad, Ali Khan Jadoon and Uzma Riaz were present in the meeting, which was also attended by Special Assistant to PM Naeem-ul-Haq, Spokesman to PM Nadeem Afzal Chan, Malik Amir Dogar and Arshad Dad.

The premier said with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa having a lot of potential in tourism, the promotion of tourism in the province over the last three years also pushed for reduction in poverty. He said that measures were being taken to exploit and promote the potential of tourism, which would bring further prosperity in the province.

The prime minister, however, maintained that while promoting tourism, it would be specially ensured that local population got maximum business opportunities. During the meeting, the MNAs apprised the prime minister of the problems faced by the people of their respective constituencies.

The authorities concerned apprised Prime Minister Imran Khan that a comprehensive business plan for the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) would be ready by March end.

A detailed briefing was given to the prime minister during a meeting attended by Minister for Aviation Muhammad Mian Soomro, Minister for Finance Asad Umar and PIA Chief Executive Officer Air Marshal Arshad Mahmood, the PM Office Media Wing in a press release said.

During the meeting, the prime minister said privatisation of PIA was not a part of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s manifesto, but the government was bringing reforms in the PIA to save it from recurring losses by turning it into a profit-earning entity.

The PIA CEO informed the prime minister about the progress on the steps taken for the revival of national flag carrier. A detailed briefing was also given with regard to the steps being taken for turning the PIA into a profit generating organization and removal of the corrupt elements.

The Aviation Division secretary briefed the prime minister about the new aviation policy. The prime minister directed that people should be regularly kept informed about the steps being taken for improving the PIA’s affairs.

Date 2 / 7 /2019

Source: The News

Pak to make changes in SEZs under CPEC to make them more investor friendly

Pakistani Finance Minister Asad Umar has proposed changes in the initial plan of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in order to make them more investor friendly.

In a meeting of Economic Cooperation Committee (ECC) here on Monday, Umar directed the Board of Investment, a department under the Prime Minister’s Office which is responsible for making policies to mobilise and facilitate local and foreign investment, to approve application of companies interested in investing in the SEZs in 45 days from the previous 90 days, reports Xinhua news agency.

Chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan, the purpose of the meeting was to deliberate upon the country’s economic situation, and form a future strategy for the stability and revival of the economy.

Both China and Pakistan have agreed to make CPEC focus on industrial cooperation after the first five-year early harvest period since 2013.

The joint venture in the SEZs is a major area in the bilateral industrial cooperation between China and Pakistan under CPEC aiming at boost local economy and employment.

Date: 5/2/2019

Source: Business Standard

 

CPEC phase-I to be completed by Oct this year: envoy

ABBOTTABAD: China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) phase-I would be completed by October this year, said Ambassador of China to Pakistan Yao Jing while talking to media after Chinese New Year celebrations.

He said that he enjoyed celebrating Chinese New Year in Abbottabad, terming the city “a gateway to CPEC”.

He said CPEC played a vital role in Pak-China relations and “we would expand the scope of the corridor” which would enhance cooperation between two friendly countries.

Ambassador Yao Jing maintained that China would continue its support for the development of education sector in Pakistan. He said that China Pakistan relations were exemplary in the world and the friendship would continue unabated.

Earlier, on his arrival at Pak-China Public School, Abbottabad, KP Assembly Speaker Mushtaq Ahmed Ghani welcomed the ambassador and a cake cutting ceremony was held to mark the new Chinese calendar year.

Source: Profit Pakistan

Date: 5/2/2019

 

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CPEC: A way forward to strengthen cultural ties

Source: China Daily

Date: 22/1/2019

Author: Rubeeia Ahmed

China’s Belt and Road Initiative recently completed its five-year anniversary. It has proven to be one of the most important projects of connectivity. After the launch of BRI, there have been various exchanges between China and other countries in the field of trade, arts, education and culture, etc. China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, being a flagship project of BRI, has been successful in bringing the people of two countries closer. Though China and Pakistan have maintained a stable relationship for almost 70 years, somehow this relationship was only limited to diplomatic exchanges.

Thanks to CPEC, the nature of exchanges between China and Pakistan has changed and people–to-people ties have become stronger. Now it is overwhelming to see the influence of CPEC on cultural exchanges between the two countries. The world has witnessed the power of culture in the past few years. Recently, when I read the news about the release of first Pakistani movie “The Legend of Maula Jatt” in China, I realized that China-Pakistan friendship is set to reach a new height. Not only did I feel excited but when I shared the news with my Chinese friends, they told me that they can’t wait to watch the first Pakistani film in Chinese cinemas.

Both film and television are important elements of culture. Films and television are carriers of culture; it is the power of the audio and visuals in films and television that people feel themselves a part of the story. The narratives and characters in the films become a part of their lives. Films and television provide a gateway to people to step into other cultures in order to develop a better understanding.

Films and TV industry has drastically changed the societies of world and we cannot ignore its importance. In today’s modern society, media industry has become a big part of our lives. It does not only inform, educate and entertain us but it also shapes our lives. No one can undermine the importance of entertainment programs. They are widely popular and they are a powerful source of preserving and promoting local culture. Entertainment industry plays an important role in bringing the people together.

Cinema breaks all discriminatory barriers by offering a common platform to all. Cinema has a power to bring people, cultures and even nations closer. China and Pakistan have realized the importance of entertainment industry to strengthen cultural ties; in the near future, films and television exchange will make the bond between the two nations even stronger.

There had been some influence of China-Pakistan friendship on the entertainment industry in the past years, especially after the launch of CPEC. Pakistani movie “Chalay Thay Saath” with a Chinese actor in the lead role, Shan food advertisement with a Chinese couple and the broadcast of Beijing Youth (A Chinese TV series) on Pakistan Television (PTV) are some prominent examples. I realized that even a mere advertisement has a tendency to reach people’s heart when my professor played the “Shan Biryani Masala TVC 2017”, a popular Pakistani ad, in class during her lecture. Yes, you got me right, that ad was not only popular in Pakistan but it was also watched by many Chinese people.

Looking at the current situation, one can tell that the future will see many such exchanges between the two nations. The increased interaction between the citizens of China and Pakistan in the areas of culture, media, sports and tourism will further strengthened the bonds of China-Pakistan friendship. It will also promote goodwill, love and peace among the peoples of the whole region. The exchange of films and television would enable the people of both countries to understand each other’s culture and values.

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New Pakistani visa regime indicative of an open, confident, and secure Pakistan: Chinese ambassador

Source: China Daily

Date: 31/1/2019

The new visa regime announced by the Government of Pakistan is indicative of an open, confident and secure Pakistan. H.E Mr. Yao Jing, the Ambassador of China to Pakistan said this in a meeting with Chaudhry Fawad Hussain, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting here today.

“We are happy to see that Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf’s Government is guiding strong bilateral relations between the two countries in a positive direction’’, he said.

The ambassador also appreciated the personal efforts of Information Minister in promoting culture and films to project the positive image of Pakistan.

The ambassador of China said this year China would allow screening of selected Pakistani feature films in Chinese cinemas, which would promote people to people contact between the two countries.

The information minister highly appreciated the endeavor and informed the ambassador that Pakistan is participating in 9th International Beijing Film Festival. The minister said it was high time to broaden the cooperation between the two countries by exchanging information and co-producing feature films.

Ch. Fawad Hussain, also sought China’s assistance in establishing a technical media institute as part of the Media University, the government envisages to establish soon.

The ambassador informed the minister that under the next phase of CPEC both China and Pakistan would focus on joint ventures in special economic zones and social sector projects including health, education, water resources, and poverty alleviation.

While emphasizing the significance of transfer of technology, the minister reiterated that government accords importance to local production of goods with a view to boost indigenous industry particularly in field of media.

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CPEC projects: ECC agrees on speeding up work on two more SEZs

Source: Express Tribune

Date: 5th Feb, 2019

ISLAMABAD: 

The federal government on Monday decided to fast-track work on two more prioritised Special Economic Zones (SEZs) being set up under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and directed  ministries to resolve issues hampering progress on earlier three prioritised zones.

The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the cabinet directed the Ministry of Energy to prepare a plan for the provision of 740 megawatts of electricity and 170 million cubic feet of gas per day (mmcfd) to the zones to be set up under CPEC. The work on CPEC SEZs has remained stalled due to delay in finalisation of their administrative structures, incentive packages and availability of utilities.

The ECC also decided to amend the SEZ Act to give more powers to the provinces for approval of these zones.

These decisions were taken on the basis of a presentation given by Board of Investment Chairman Haroon Sharif, who highlighted all the pending issues that delayed operationalisation of the second phase of CPEC. The ECC agreed with the Board of Investment (BOI) proposals to fast-track the zone approval process, which would curtail the application processing time from 90 days to 45 days, said Sharif after the ECC meeting.

He said the ECC also decided to include the Islamabad SEZ and Bostan SEZ, Balochistan, in the list of priority zones.

In May 2017, Pakistan had submitted a list of nine prioritised zones to China, which would be built under the CPEC framework. Of these, three zones – Faisalabad, Rashakai in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Dhabeji in Sindh – had been prioritised for the first phase of implementation.

The Rashakai zone requires 210MW of electricity and 30 mmcfd of gas. The BOI had conditionally recommended SEZ status for the Rashakai zone in 2018 subject to the provision of no-objection certificate by the provincial environmental protection authority. The concession agreement for the zone has not yet been signed. The Faisalabad CPEC industrial zone requires 330MW of electricity and 125 mmcfd of gas. The provincial government has allocated funds for its development but the master plan will not be ready before June this year.

Similarly, the Dhabeji zone needs 200MW of electricity and 15 mmcfd of gas. Work on this zone is moving at a snail’s pace, although the provincial government expects to hold international competitive bidding for selecting a developer this month. The Ministry of Energy will share a plan with the ECC for the provision of electricity and gas to the existing and planned SEZs within 30 days, according to a statement issued by the finance ministry after the meeting. The SEZs have been planned as part of CPEC to attract investment from China through the relocation of sunset industries. But Pakistan has remained unable to cash in on the opportunity due to usual bureaucratic snags.

The BOI chairman highlighted the cost of land, provision of utilities, governance structures and freight and mark-up subsidies as obstacles to the development of prioritised SEZs. The issue of approval of a tax and subsidy incentive package remains pending before the federal cabinet for approval amid reluctance on the part of provinces to provide financing.

Finance Minister Asad Umar asked the provincial governments to provide land with the objective of industrialisation instead of using it as a tool to make quick money from real estate transactions.

The ECC directed that the BOI should make certain changes to the SEZ Act to make it more investor-friendly. After these amendments, the role of the federal government will be restricted to providing utilities only. After the amendments, the provinces will also not be required to file applications with the BOI for approval of the economic zones.

However, it will not be an easy task for the government to get the law amended due to the charged political atmosphere.

The ECC also directed the authorities to first fulfil requirements of the existing seven SEZs, which were being developed outside of the CPEC framework. Punjab government representatives raised the issue of lack of availability of utilities in the province, which were hampering development of industries. The ECC accorded approval for the provision of funds to the tune of Rs833 million to Pakistan Machine Tool Factory for the payment of employees’ salaries and retirement benefits.

Next 5 years of CPEC likely to help Pakistan tackle trade deficit

ISLAMABAD: In March and April 2016, Pakistan sent two delegations to China for studying best practices in the development of Special Economic Zones (SEZs).

In November 2016, the two sides established a joint working group on industrial cooperation and held its first meeting, during which they agreed to work out a mechanism, key areas of cooperation and key projects.

Later, in the sixth CPEC Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) meeting in the same month, Pakistan submitted a list of nine SEZs. In 2017 and 2018, a Chinese expert panel thrice visited the sites of the nine proposed zones in order to conduct a comprehensive analysis and develop proposals for an industrial development strategy for Pakistan

Through interaction with provincial governments, business associations and enterprises, the expert panel came to know about their demands for local development. The expert group suggested that the development strategy for each industrial park under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) must be combined with the economic foundation and actual conditions in the relevant locality with distinctive features and differentiated approaches.

The expert panel also sent the Board of Investment (BOI) its appraisal of the feasibility studies of six SEZs while the rest are yet to be submitted.

In early 2018, the Pakistan government instructed the BOI to formulate more accurate and favourable policies on top of the current preferential policies for two to three SEZs that were listed as key projects of CPEC. The two sides are negotiating details of implementation of the Rashakai SEZ project, which will be inaugurated in the first quarter of 2019.

In the 8th JCC meeting in Beijing, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) of China and the BOI signed a memorandum of understanding for industrial cooperation. A joint statement released after the conclusion of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s first China visit emphasised that progress on CPEC was satisfactory for both the countries.

On the completion of first five years of CPEC, undoubtedly a solid development can be witnessed. But development in coming years is of more importance based on investment and industrial cooperation. The next five years can not only play a significant role in the revival of industries in Pakistan, but could also be a strong stepping stone to lead the country out of the challenge of trade imbalance.

To gain maximum advantage from CPEC in coming years, Pakistan needs to work hard and address a few in-house complications on a priority basis. First of them is the lack of skilled labour. The development of economic zones and revival of industries requires skilled labour but Pakistan has a shortage of such workforce due to very little focus on developing vocational training institutes.

Pakistan’s workforce has extensively been focused on agriculture, however, the skill sets required for the industries is different. Many researchers project that there will be room for about 1.2 million new jobs under CPEC between 2015 and 2030.

According to official documents, 30,000 jobs were created under the early harvest programme of CPEC and about 80,000 more will be created in the remaining years. Data from the Economic Survey of Pakistan shows that the country has 326,765 fully unskilled and 152,235 semi-skilled registered workers.

The crucial objective of industrial cooperation between Pakistan and China is not just the establishment of industrial parks, but also to develop and implement various initiatives and projects required to help industrialise the country.

Building Pakistan’s industrial capacity and linking rural and remote areas with urban centres for a harmonious rural-urban synergy is needed over the next five years of the mega project. So, given successful integration of Pakistan’s markets and supply chains with those of China and the region, investors can achieve sustainable and inclusive growth.

On the other hand, Pakistan is also in dire need of technological upgrade and reforms in the agriculture sector. The agriculture sector employs 42.27% of the labour force and these reforms can help drive the country out of the current economic crisis.

Agricultural growth provides an avenue for poverty alleviation. As Pakistan’s financial system largely relies on agriculture, its development will bring more economic benefits and will allow the country to raise exports of agricultural goods.

China is the world’s largest importer of agricultural products with over $100 billion of food products. But unfortunately, Pakistan has a share of only 1% in China’s food imports.

Experts are of the view that the ongoing trade war between the US and China can provide Pakistan a chance to increase exports to China. But are we prepared for it?

In order to bring prosperity, new research in agricultural products along with enhancing per-acre yield, producing high value-added products and linking farmers with the economic corridor are the measures that need to be taken.

The writer is a researcher at the Sustainable Development Policy Institute

Date: 4th Feb, 2019

Source: Express Tribune

Special economic zones under CPEC to be functional soon: Bakhtiar

Date: 2/4/2019

Source: ARY News

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Planning and Statistics Makhdum Khusro Bakhtiar has said the special economic zones under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) would be made functional soon.

“The government is taking solid measures for progress and development of the country,” Khusro Bakhtiar said while talking to a local channel on Saturday.

He said the impact of those measures would be visible in the next two years. “Pakistan had entered into agreements with China pertaining to agricultural cooperation and industrial and socio-economic development,” he added.

He claimed that the past governments ruined administrative structure of the country and the incumbent government was taking measures for its overhauling.

The government had entered more than three agreements with China, he informed. “These include industrial development, agricultural cooperation and socio-economic development.”

 

The minister said power projects and water preservation projects will be launched in Rahim Yar Khan this year.

Couple of weeks ago, Bakhtiar had said China would release $1bn grant for less privileged areas in the country.

Khusro Bakhtiar said that the government would take benefit from Chinese model to eliminate poverty from the country. He said that China would also invest in petrochemical sector.

He had said that special economic zones under China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) would be made functional soon. He said that the government would take measures to boost agriculture sector and would reduce import.

CPEC debt concerns to recede: Fitch Solutions

Source: Business Recorder

Date: 2/1/2019

Author: Tahir Amin

Debt concerns relating to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects will begin to recede on the back of improving transparency while political risks have been diminished, says Fitch Solutions.

Fitch in its latest report “Industry Trend Analysis – CPEC to Remain a Primary Driver of Pakistan’s Construction Industry” states: “We expect debt concerns surrounding CPEC projects to ease after financial details are released. In addition, we believe political risks associated with CPEC projects have diminished since the 2018 Pakistani general election. These factors will reduce overall risk profile of CPEC projects.”

The report further states that the CPEC will continue to support growth of Pakistan’s construction industry in the coming years, aided by China’s sustained push on project implementation, as well as warming bilateral relationship between the two countries.

Since the implementation of CPEC, a centrepiece of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), in 2013, the mega project has faced numerous challenges resulting in large downside risks to many projects. Despite these challenges, 11 CPEC projects, labelled as early harvest projects, have been completed thus far.

Despite significant media and political scrutiny of CPEC, this progress on projects underscores Beijing’s improving track record in project implementation and its commitment to infrastructure development in Pakistan.

Since the inception of CPEC, projects have shown good progress in terms of execution; a total of 3,240MW of capacity had been added to the Pakistan’s national grid, accounting for more than 11% of the total installed capacity in the country.

Also, the 392KM Multan to Sukkur section of the Peshawar-Karachi Motorway, a key CPEC project which broke ground in August 2016, is currently more than 80% complete and is slated for completion by August 2019. As such, Fitch believes that continued Chinese involvement in the Pakistani construction market will provide a positive upside in terms of timeliness and execution, and will continue to boost growth of the construction industry in the near future.

The report further states that debt concerns relating to CPEC projects will begin to recede on the back of improving transparency. In December 2018, reports relating to the Pakistani government’s debt to China had been circulating in the media, with this amount purportedly to be in the region of $40 billion.

Pakistan’s Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform and the Embassy of China in Pakistan have since released statements clarifying the total value of the aforementioned 22 early harvest CPEC projects completed and under construction to be around $18.9 billion, of which around $6 billion of loans, representing 32% of total value, were provided by the Chinese government and will be repaid over 20-25 years from 2021 at an interest rate of around 2%.

From these statements, it has been noted an improvement in terms of transparency of CPEC projects, with China also providing a breakdown of the type of financing and the estimated investment for each CPEC project.

Fitch believes such a move is a welcoming sign for Pakistan’s construction industry as calls for a greater level of transparency over CPEC projects are now being addressed by authorities. This would in turn provide more comfort for potential investors to Pakistan’s construction industry.

Furthermore, it has been believed this improved transparency will aid Pakistan’s efforts in renegotiation for an IMF bailout deal which, if secured, could provide its ailing economy with much needed economic relief.

In the meantime, it has maintained the real growth rate of Pakistan’s construction industry to average at 8.9% over the next 5 years. “We will adjust our forecasts to account possible positive ripple effects across the economy, including the construction industry, in the event an IMF bailout is secured.”

Fitch believes political risks associated with CPEC projects have diminished. “Previously, we note that the transition in power from Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) posed a downside risk to the Pakistani construction industry as new Prime Minister Imran Khan pledged to review Chinese-backed projects, which could potentially have led to project delays and cancellations. However, the political situation in Pakistan has since stabilised and Prime Minister Imran Khan has demonstrated willingness to cooperate with China on multiple issues including CPEC.

“As such, we are in the view that downside risks stemming from political uncertainty are diminishing, and bilateral projects spearheaded by CPEC, will receive a boost in terms of policy implementation and project continuity,” maintained the report

CPEC, peaceful Afghanistan to open new avenues of progress in region

Source: Business Recorder

Date: 1/2/2019

Author: Parvez Jabri

ISLAMABAD: National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser Thursday said new avenues of development and progress for youth will emerge in country after achieving peace and stability in Afghanistan and fast implementation of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Talking to the youth during the dialogue held on the topic of “Democratic and Peaceful Governance and Sustainable Development in Pakistan” between Youth and Parliamentarians on Thursday, a press release said.

On this occasion, large numbers of parliamentarians were present to respond the questions and suggestion raised by the youth.

The speaker said there was development under progress for peace and stability in Afghanistan at global level and we are hopeful that these efforts will become fruitful in bringing peace and stability in Afghanistan.

He said CPEC will open new avenues of development in the region. Peace and stability is essential for generating employment opportunities. Youth is a ray of light and providing them education and technical training will not only make progress but it will also help to become a developed and prosperous country.

Asad Qaisir emphasized the need for youth to participate in politics and take an active part in the development of the country.

Determination required for continuous struggle and vision to move forward. At present, 96 Young Parliamentarians are members of the National Assembly and were playing active role in the proceedings of the House and development of the country, he added.

The speaker said youth is the valuable assets of the country and nation has a lot of expectations from its young generation. He urged upon the youth to work hard to meet the expectations of the nation.

He asked the leadership of the political parties to take steps for inclusion in their parties. He appreciated the PILDAT for holding this dialogue and termed it as a positive development to bring Youth in the mainstream of socio-economic affairs.

The meeting was attended by Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Youth Affairs, Usman Dar, MNAs Wajiha Akram, Shandana Gulzar, Kanwal Shauzab, Mehnaz Akbar Aziz, Romina Khurshid Alam, Syed Naveed Qamar, Shahida Akhtar Ali, Kishwer Zahra, Senators Qurat-ul- Ain Marri, Mushtaq Ahmed, President PILDAT Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, Resident Representative UNDP Ignacio Artaza, UN Resident Coordinator Pakistan, Neil Buhne and large number of youth.