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No CPEC document shared with IMF: govt

ISLAMABAD: 

The planning secretary informed a Senate panel on Thursday that the planning and finance ministries had not shared any document related to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Senator Sherry Rehman, the chairperson of the Senate Standing Committee on CPEC, said the government’s statement was in contradiction to media reports which stated that the government had shared details of debt incurred on account of CPEC projects as well as other sensitive information with the IMF.

“I am stating on record that no such information has been shared with the IMF,” Planning Secretary Zafar Hassan replied.

Rehman directed the planning ministry that there should be no ambiguity in terms of CPEC projects and stressed the need for transparency.

Planning and Development Minister Khusro Bakhtiar said on the occasion that it had been submitted in writing that no document concerning CPEC had been shared with the IMF.

He added that the Senate committee should play its role in the economic development of the country by embarking upon agendas and ideas which could motivate the government to work diligently for the country.

He said the senate committee should look into issues through the prism of national interest rather than paying heed to false media reports.

The minister maintained the government-to-government loans under CPEC only stood at $6 billion so far while the rest were either commercial ones or taken under other modes.

He pointed out that the government was now focusing on developing business-to-business contacts with China to promote public-private partnership in the country.

“To boost the country’s exports, special incentive packages will be offered especially to international investors,” he said.

“Around 70,000 direct jobs have been created so far under various CPEC projects while the National Vocational Technical Training Centre is doing a great job in preparing thousands of skilled workers required for the second phase of CPEC industrial sector.”

Bakhtiar said ideally Dhabeji and Gwadar Special Economic Zones should be given priority as it was an International practice that there should be more development in areas where there was economic activity.

The minister said upgrading the Railway Main Line (ML-1) was an important project under the second phase of CPEC.

“Its completion will ensure safe, economically viable and speedy transportation of goods from North to South.”

He said a railway connection between Mazar Shareef in Afghanistan and Peshawar was also under consideration.

The minister informed the committee that the Gwadar Master Plan would be finalised by the end of August.

Senator Kauda Babar said traders of Balochistan should be given representation in the CPEC Business Forum. He also pointed out that the grant provided by China to the previous government for Gwadar airport was yet to be spent.

The chairperson of the committee expressed her displeasure over the absence of the Board of Investment chairman from the meeting. She added that a letter would be written to National Assembly about the Board of Investment chairman’s attitude. “If the matter goes to the privilege committee, he [Board of Investment chairman] could lose his job,” she warned.

Source: Express Tribune

Date: 19/7/2019

CPEC provides companies opportunity to adopt latest technology

FAISALABAD: 

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has provided an opportunity to Pakistani companies, particularly in the Faisalabad region, to reconfigure their operations and re-strategise their product-based competencies to be able to serve national and global markets in a better position, said University of Cambridge Institute for Manufacturing (IfM) Industrial Associate Dr Arsalan Ghani.

He was speaking to a delegation of the Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FCCI), which visited the University of Cambridge, led by FCCI Standing Committee on CPEC Chairman Ahmad Hassan.

He was of the view that companies that had transformed their business by incorporating latest technologies and business models would not only grow but would also contribute positively to the national exchequer.

Ghani stressed that either companies could continue traditional practices of low-quality manufacturing or could step up and benefit from advanced manufacturing strategies to proactively transform their business and be globally competitive.

Talking about IfM, he said knowledge outputs including those on advanced technologies and latest manufacturing processes were disseminated through a dedicated university-industry platform within the IfM.

“The institute has been working for over 50 years with leading organisations in all sectors including food and agriculture, automotive, aerospace, textile, chemical, pharmaceutical, defence, banking and finance, ICT and many more,” he said. “It is particularly helping smaller manufacturers achieve objectives by working with them directly and providing support.”

He added that IfM had developed a set of fast and effective workshop-based frameworks and intervention support tools, which had been used with more than a thousand organisations over the years, leading them to a sustainable growth path.

During the meeting, it was felt that in the changing national and international environment, company executives and senior management within Faisalabad and surrounding areas had to be equipped with knowledge of latest international practices in manufacturing and services. Speaking on the occasion, Hassan said there were around 7,000 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and large companies linked to the FCCI.

Speaking about the chamber, he highlighted that it was a platform which had an essential duty to provide valuable services to its members, who often faced challenges due to changing economic and political environment in the country.

Hassan stated that the FCCI was planning to enhance its portfolio and incorporate international perspectives for its members so that they could transform their business according to best global practices.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 17th, 2019.

Pakistan to welcome Commonwealth partnership in SEZs on CPEC route

ISLAMABAD: 

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Wednesday apprised his counterparts from the Commonwealth states of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), saying that the project was fast reaching fruition to make Pakistan a regional hub for economic activity.

Addressing the Extraordinary Commonwealth Foreign Affairs Ministers’ Meeting (CFAMM) in London, the foreign minister said that a civil government in Pakistan transferred power to the next elected government after completing its five-year tenure.

“The third general elections were held in July 2018 and true democracy was ushered in as a result, as compared to many other Muslim countries,” he said. “The 2018 elections are declared free and transparent by the European Union and the Commonwealth,” he added.

Qureshi explained that the CPEC was providing a platform for regional development, increase in productivity rate and prosperity. He added that Pakistan would welcome partnership of Commonwealth in special economic zones on the CPEC route.

The meeting was convened to mark the 70th anniversary of the London Declaration, which marked the creation of the Commonwealth of Nations. It was chaired by the UK in its capacity as the current chair-in-office.

The ministers discussed matters of collective interest and deliberated on the role of Commonwealth in economic development, governance and social development to realise the shared vision of a fairer, a more prosperous, a more sustainable and a more secure future.

Qureshi said that after the restoration of its membership in 2008, Pakistan had taken many positive and long lasting steps. He stressed that Pakistan’s National Development Strategy, Vision 2025, remained fully aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government has recently launched a comprehensive programme for poverty alleviation called Ehsas that will focus on areas hit by the Afghan war,” the foreign minister said.

He informed the meeting that Pakistan had given refuge to 2.7 million Afghans, which is a huge number, compared to refugees all over the world. As far as the movement from one country to another was concerned, he added, Pakistan supported only legal movement.

“Ehsas has been initiated to eliminate poverty and assist the weak class and promote workforce power,” he said, adding that a health programme named “Sehat Sahoolat programme” had been initiated so that the needy persons could be provided healthcare.

Reiterating Pakistan’s commitment to deliver on the vision of the Commonwealth, Qureshi dilated on steps taken towards building sustainable institutions and inclusive society, internalising good governance and mainstreaming gender parity.

Qureshi told his counterparts from the Commonwealth states that rule of law, eradication of corruption, economic development and social justice were key priorities of the Pakistan government for a long-term and sustainable growth.

Speaking on the gender equality, the minister informed the meeting that there was an ever-growing number of Pakistani women entering workforce and the government had introduced legislation to protect their rights and their economic and social empowerment.

“The representation of women in civil service, law and other departments has increased to a great extent,” he said. “The women representation in Parliament is also high with 68 seats in the National Assembly and 18 seats in the Senate and 139 in the provincial assemblies,” he added.

“Pakistan is cognisant of its human rights obligations and takes its commitment to the minorities very seriously,” Qureshi said. “A 5% quota has been allocated for the minorities, while the 11th of August is observed as the minority’s day,” he added.

Giving an overview of economic reforms, Qureshi stated that Pakistan believed in people-centric development. He also highlighted the government’s special focus on youth and the various programmes that have been started for economic uplift.

Qureshi briefed the delegates on Pakistan’s successful fight against extremism and terrorism and the measures taken by the government against hate speech, violent extremism, money laundering and terror financing.

He said Pakistan was treading in a difficult situation and believed in trade, investment and communication. He added that with a population of more than 200 million, Pakistan was a rising economy.

He said that 65% of the population comprised youth. He added that a national youth council had been formed in which loans have been given to the youth through a special programme so that “the youth can start business and promote their skills”.

He said that in view of the dangers faced due to the environmental changes, Pakistan had completed a billion-tree programme successfully in which afforestation on 300,000 hectare area has been carried out.

To commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Commonwealth, the minister announced the issuance of a commemorative postage stamp by Pakistan as an expression of solidarity with the organisation.

The foreign minister also interacted with the foreign ministers of other Commonwealth countries. Pakistan is one of the founding members of the Commonwealth. The CFAMM mechanism was established to provide political oversight and guidance for implementation of mandates agreed by leaders in the period between Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings (CHOGMs).

Source: Express Tribune

Dated on: 10/7/2019

Financial liabilities of govt for CPEC projects only $5.8b

ISLAMABAD   –   Out of total $28 billion so far utilised for CPEC projects, the financial liabilities of government of Pakistan are only to the tune of $5.8 billion comprising of low interest loans and grants in infrastructure projects spread over 20 to 25 years payback period.

Ministry of Planning, Development & Reforms clarified a news article carried by some sections of international media titled “IMF Won’t Stop China From Turning Pakistan Into The Next Sri Lanka”, published on 4th July, 2019. The article is based on incorrect data and distorted facts.

The spokesperson of CPEC, Hassan Daud Butt, said that the writer needs to know that China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a flagship project of the Belt and Road Initiative. CPEC financing comprises of Government to Government loans, Private investment and grants.

According the spokesman, to date, 22 projects worth $28 billion are in various stages of implementation, of which $22 billion worth are private sector energy projects.

The government of Pakistan’s financial liability is only to the tune of $5.8 billion comprising of low interest loans and grants in infrastructure projects spread over 20 to 25 years payback period, he added.

The energy projects are being executed purely in the Independent Power Producers (IPPs) mode and finances are mainly taken by the private companies against their own balance sheets. Therefore, debt would be borne by the investors instead of any obligation on part of the government of Pakistan. Therefore; the impression of debt burden falling on the government of Pakistan is based on incorrect analysis.

Similarly, stating that “CPEC will add to corruption” clearly depicts the writer is not aware that the second phase of CPEC is focused on industrial cooperation (B 2 B JVs), socio economic development and agriculture cooperation, directed towards poverty alleviation of less developed areas of Pakistan based on pragmatic planning and due diligence on both sides.

Comparing cooperation with China through CPEC, with any other country, is unrealistic as it has facilitated in overcoming crucial energy, transport infrastructure and supply chain bottlenecks.

Under CPEC, development of Gwadar (mostly through grant/interest free loans) projects would ensure strengthening of maritime sector. The development of Gwadar port project is on BOT mode and cannot be compared with any port project being developed on foreign funding/loans. Gwadar continues as high priority and is being developed as a standalone project as well as a transshipment hub based on blue economy principles.

All in all, CPEC is acting as a stimulus to the economic growth of Pakistan. The false narrative of a “debt trap” is not based on the ground realities, the spokesperson concluded.

Source: The Nation

Date: 6 /7/2019

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SEZ under CPEC may be inaugurated by month-end

The inaugural session of Rashakai Special Economic Zone, under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is expected to be held by the end of July, sources in the Board of Investment (BoI) said. An investment worth $138 million is expected from China in this industrial zone and it is among three SEZs which will be developed within next two years.

The BoI will focus on the development of three SEZs – Rashakai Economic Zone, M-1, Nowshera, China Special Economic Zone Dhabeji and Allama Iqbal Industrial City (M3), Faisalabad in the next two years. China agreed to facilitate operationalisation of at least one SEZ under CPEC as Pakistan is yet to show progress on the remaining zones. Among the Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs)/agreements signed between Pakistan and China on the conclusion of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s second visit to China in April, joint venture and license agreements were also signed between Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Economic Zones Development and Management Company (KPEZDMC) and China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) for cooperation in operationalising Rashakai SEZ in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The two are engaged in the final stages of finalizing and signing the concession agreement, following which the ground breaking of the project will take place. While the concession agreement has been finalized however utility services to the zone are yet to be provided.

Pakistan had requested China’s cooperation in developing at least one SEZ. Rashakai Industrial Zone in Nowshera would consist of 1,000 acres of land and focus on fruit, food packaging and textile stitching/knitting. There is a requirement of 209 MW of electricity and 30 mmcfd gas for this SEZ. The first SEZ at Rashakai will be inaugurated during the current month, where 20 factories would be set up initially.

Dhabeji Industrial Zone also consists of 1,000 acres of land and would target foundries, steel, building material, petrochemical, automotive and allied, light engineering, textile and garments etc. It requires 200MW electricity and 15 mmcfd gas. The sources said that more than 790MW electricity and 200 million cubic feet per day (mmcfd) gas will be required for nine SEZs envisaged under CPEC.

The BoI has prepared a comprehensive plan for fast-track development of notified seven SEZs in the next two years. The Board is the Secretariat of CPEC identified nine SEZs but has notified only seven which have been facing land acquisition, provision of utility services, security and other infrastructure issues.

The Board would take the proposed plan with a time line for revival of these SEZs to the committee of approvals to be headed by the recently appointed Chairman Board of Investment Zubair Gilani.

The nine SEZs include: (1) Rashakai Comprehensive SEZ, Nowshera, KP, (2) Allama Iqbal Industrial City, Faisalabad, (3) China Special Economic Zone, Dhabejji Thatta, (4) IT Park, Islamabad, (5) Bostan Industrial Zone, Balochistan, (6) SEZ Port Qasim Karachi, (7) Moondash SEZ, Gilgit-Baltistan, (8) Mirpur SEZ, Azad Jammu and Kashmir and (9) Momand Marbel City, TATA.

The government has proposed additional incentives for industrial zones, for example one window operation by Special Economic Zone Authority (SEZA), bulk purchase of basic utilities and renting out of sheds for industrial use, etc, and all SEZs in Pakistan will be open for investors not only from China but from all over the world.

Source: Business Recorder

Date: 7th July 2019

Author: Wasim Iqbal

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CPEC — poverty alleviation

SINCE the inception of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the flagship project under the Belt & Road (B&R) initiative and a lot of work have already been done. Out of 22 big and small projects, 11 have been completed while work on the rest is underway. Although CPEC and B&R is the Chinese initiative, yet aims at collective prosperity of the entire region. The Free Trade Agreement (FTA) Phase II between Pakistan and China has already been signed besides other important agreements related to CPEC. In spite of a lot of criticism by Opposition both the countries are much better positioned and the partnership between the two is growing. Obviously lot of job opportunities are expected to generate due to FTA but need to be optimal utilization of job opportunities from these generated through CPEC and it allied projects. For maximum utilization, it is necessary to enhance the skill and productivity of Pakistani labour force.

Recently three small steel mills have been taken over by the Chinese and it is strange to note that all employees are replaced with Chinese nationals except required to deal with the public. It is a point of concern, it needs careful analysis to find out the reasons. Is it due to the non-availability of the skilled workforce or any other reason? If so, then our concerned ministry/departments should take immediate action to enhance the skills of labour up to the level required and leaving no excuse for Chinese and others to bring manpower from outside. I hope that Pakistani concerned ministry/department would have done homework on what types of job opportunities will be generated as a result of CPEC and its allied projects. Pakistan needs to provide employment to the youth and other unemployed to restrict and eliminate poverty, for that employment is the major instrument. Pakistan’s concerned authorities must be vigilant and should have a comprehensive follow-up program to avail maximum benefit from these projects otherwise the already poverty alleviation program like Ehsas will lose its effectiveness.

Under the CPEC’s industrial cooperation, out of nine Special Economic Zones (SEZ) the work on Rashakai has been initiated and 20 factories would be set up initially. According to original plan employment in the SEZs would be given to the local people and the latest technology would be transferred from China to Pakistan. Are local person are being trained to take over the jobs or again manpower will be imported from outside with the excuse of not having the required skill? There are six areas in the social sector, including education, health, agriculture, water & irrigation, and poverty alleviation in which around 26 new projects will be initiated in Pakistan. Under the social sector cooperation of CPEC two model villages would be built in Pakistan under CPEC to uplift the living standard of low-income segments of the society but that need sustainability in the income of people which can be ensured by providing employment.

A comprehensive transportation package is also prepared. The economic corridor is considered central to China–Pakistan relations and will run about 2700 km from Gwadar to Kashgar. CPEC is intended to rapidly modernize Pakistani infrastructure and strengthen its economy by the construction of modern transportation networks, numerous energy projects, and special economic zones. A vast network of highways and railways are to be built under the aegis of CPEC that will span the length and breadth of Pakistan. Modern transportation networks built under CPEC will link seaports in Gwadar and Karachi with northern Pakistan, as well as points further north in western China and Central Asia. A 1,100-kilometre long motorway will be built between the cities of Karachi and Lahore as part of CPEC, while the Karakoram Highway between Rawalpindi and the Chinese border will be completely reconstructed and overhauled.

The Karachi–Peshawar main railway line will also be upgraded to allow for train travel at up to 160 km per hour. Pakistan’s railway network will also be extended to eventually connect to China’s Southern Xinjiang Railway in Kashgar. Over $33 billion worth of energy infrastructure are to be constructed by private consortia to help alleviate Pakistan’s chronic energy shortage, which regularly amount to over 4,500MW. A network of pipelines to transport liquefied natural gas and oil will also be laid as part of the project, including a $2.5 billion pipeline between Gwadar and Nawabshah to eventually transport gas from Iran. Heavy construction activities are expected in result of these interventions and local trained workforce in these sectors would be largely required. It is time to work out the estimated required manpower and skill levels for these projects.

It is pertinent to mention that a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has also been signed on the occasion between All Pakistan China Entrepreneurs Association (APCEA) and National Vocational & Technical Training Commission (NAVTTC) to provide skilled workforce to Chinese companies engaged in various projects in Pakistan. The Chairman of NAVTTC assured to provide all the required skilled labour for their projects. But it needs hard work and to associate the Chinese professional to ensure the skill level required to them otherwise I have doubt the repetition of Steel Mills instance.

In the South Asian region, Pakistan’s position in trained manpower is fairly weak. Development of Pakistan’s enormous human potential requires a shift in national priorities, and a greater share of the country’s financial resources to the technical education and vocational and technical training. Pakistan must create conditions and environment necessary for creativity and innovation essential for moving into and being competitive in the knowledge-based industries, which will provide the highest value-addition for the economy. This will require training of various technical skills in Pakistan preferably priority to require for CPEC projects. The formal institutions produce a very small proportion of the total increments to the skilled workforce and not necessarily in accordance with the demand and of the requisite quality. Hence a high tech Vocational Training Institutes keeping in view the future requirements under CPEC needs to be established.

Source: Pakistan Observer

PM for further coordination with China in second phase of CPEC

Minister Imran Khan Thursday said that the efforts are being made to further streamline and improve coordination with China at all levels, especially when the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project has entered its second phase.

In a meeting with Zhao Baige, vice chair of the 12th NPC Foreign Affairs Committee, chair of the Advisory Committee of Belt & Road Initiative International Think Tank of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, who called on him at the PM Office, the prime minister said in its second phase, the critical areas such as agriculture and socio-economic development have also been included in the CPEC, said a PM Office statement. Zhao, also the Chair of Advisory Committee of CASS-RDI, was accompanied by Fang Cal, vice chairman and member of the Party Leadership Group of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, chairman of China Overseas Ports Holding Company Ltd, Bao Zhong Zhang, chairman Huangshan Duowei Biology Co Ltd, Guang Hui Chen, chairman Wuhan Landing Medical Hi-Tech Co Ltd, Xiao Rong Sun, president Chenjiancheng TVSKY, Jiancheng Chen, chairman Pakistan Chinese Enterprises Services Co Ltd, Zi Hai Wang and Director RDI Secretariat Wen Qing Xu.

The prime minister welcomed the delegation and said that it is a matter of great satisfaction to note that all-weather and time-tested Pakistan-China friendship is transforming into a robust economic partnership. He added that Pakistan wants to learn from Chinese experience and expertise in different sectors. He said a special cell is being established at the Prime Minister’s Office to ensure seamless coordination between businesses of public and private sectors. Zhao, in her remarks, said that China will continue extending all possible cooperation to Pakistan in areas such as agriculture, health, housing, and socio-economic development.
Source: Daily Times
Date: 21/6/2019

China stands ready to promote cooperation on high-quality BRI

China said Wednesday that it is willing to work with partners to promote international cooperation on high-quality development of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to constantly score new achievements.

Lu Kang, the spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, made the remarks at a press conference in response to a World Bank report regarding the BRI.

The World Bank on Tuesday released the report titled “Belt and Road Economics: Opportunities and Risks of Transport Corridors,” saying the “BRI offers opportunities for countries to improve their infrastructure, to increase trade and connectivity among themselves and the wider world, and thus to increase growth and reduce poverty.”

The report also said that the BRI projects could contribute to lifting 32 million people out of moderate poverty.

“China has taken note of the report,” said Lu, adding that since it was first proposed six years ago, the BRI has yielded abundant achievements and has become a broadly participated platform for international cooperation and a widely welcomed international public goods.

Lu said the BRI’s vision and cooperation areas are highly compatible with most developing countries’ development strategies and have made positive contributions to these countries’ economic development and improvement of their people’s livelihood.

The joint construction of the BRI has helped unlock the bottlenecks in infrastructure construction in many regions along the Belt and Road, boosted connectivity and contributed significantly to global trade facilitation and economic growth, said Lu.

“We think the World Bank’s comments on this are objective,” Lu said.

The report also mentioned that policy reforms are needed to increase transparency, improve debt sustainability, and mitigate environmental, social and corruption risks.

Lu said during the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, various parties reached consensus on the concept of high-quality BRI development proposed by the Chinese side.

Lu said China stands ready to work with cooperation partners to jointly build the BRI, upholding the principles of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits as well as openness, inclusiveness and transparency, implementing the open, green and clean approaches, and striving for achieving the goals of high-standard, livelihood-improving and sustainable development.

China is willing to work with cooperation partners to implement the outcomes of the forum, actively build global connectivity partnership and promote international cooperation on high-quality BRI development to constantly score new achievements.

“In this sense, this is consistent with relevant views and suggestions of the World Bank report,” Lu said, adding he believed that relevant departments will conduct serious research on the suggestions given by the World Bank report.

Source: China.org.cn

Date: 20/6/2019

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Why CPEC Could Change Pakistan, China And Asia Forever

The energy crisis in Pakistan is growing, and in spite of efforts by the government it does not seem to solvable. However, thanks to the intervention of China and the formation of CPEC, the country may see some relief in the coming years.

CPEC Defined

CPEC stands for the China Pakistan Economic Corridor, and it is just one link in a chain that the Chinese are forming in the Asian region. The goal of the joint effort is to improve Pakistan’s infrastructure with updated roads, highways, and bridges. It also includes investment into energy projects, which could help solve the problems that Pakistan faces in that area. The local media and politicians praised Xi Jinping when he announced that the Chinese would invest $46 billion into the project.

China vs Pakistan: What are the risks?

The Chinese do not invest in a country unless there is a guaranteed return on that investment. Profit and risk are carefully calculated by experts before a proposal is drawn up, and there is rarely an investment made that does not heavily favor the Chinese government. This is one of the driving factors in the ongoing US vs China trade war, and is one reason Donald Trump refuses to give in on his demands to Beijing. Pakistan will have to consider very carefully what accepting CPEC could mean in the future.

According to the Organization for World Peace, investments from China have not always worked out in favor of countries they have invested in. Sri Lanka was unable to make re-payments on Chinese investments in the country. In retaliation, the Chinese government seized control of Hambantota Port for a period of 99 years. Pakistan will need to consider possibilities like this, as CPEC becomes part of their plan to move forward.

Pakistan’s Obstacles

Pakistan is a country in distress at the least, and in some people’s opinion it is a failed state altogether. There is conflict and division in various regions of the country, as well as growing tension with India. All of this coupled with an increasing energy crisis could be the fuel for a fire that can’t be easily put out. The country is desperately in need of help to sort out its mounting problems, and it is possible that CPEC and China could be the answer they have been looking for. Overcoming the hurdles to make CPEC profitable for both sides will be difficult.

Moving Forward

Pakistan welcomed the investment from China, as a means of eliminating the strain on their nation. However, they must treat China as an equal partner in the endeavor, or they may soon find themselves in even worse straits than they are now. Caution is a must as CPEC is implemented, in order to protect the Pakistani’s from inadvertently giving up territory to a foreign government. Already some issues have been reported with projects, as Dawn noted that Pakistani contractors and companies were denied access to the jobs. Instead, equipment and manpower was sourced from China, leaving the Pakistani’s outside the inner circle. The Diplomat reports that one official complained “labor is also coming from China. There are no restrictions on Chinese firms to involve Pakistani contractors and use local equipment and labor as they take the lion’s share of infrastructure projects.”

CPEC – Is it the solution?

If CPEC proceeds as Pakistan intended for it to, it could indeed be the salvation the people have been hoping for. Already 17 energy projects have been finalized, and 4 more are being considered. They include plans that involve coal, solar, hydropower, and natural gas to help improve the country’s energy situation. The addition of better roads to connect trade cities will also aid Pakistan’s ability to generate income. Additionally, China intends to connect the port of Gwadar in Pakistan’s Balochistan province with its own western province of Xinjiang via the Indian Ocean. This will help facilitate trade between the two nations.

The energy crisis in Pakistan is acute, with power outages lasting from 6-8 hours at a time and occurring all across the country. These outages cost the nation more than $18 billion in 2015 alone, and left the country crippled without power. The problem arises due to the outdated design of Pakistan’s power plants, which fall short of the necessary output to power the homes and businesses. On average they miss the mark by more than 7,000MW, leaving people to depend on diesel generators to provide power. CPEC could change all of that with the energy projects proposed by China. The plan calls for $35 billion to be invested in updating the infrastructure surrounding Pakistan’s power supply.

China Has The Power

China has proven that it has the technology to help Pakistan pull through its energy crisis. The country has managed to keep its own population supplied with power, and maintain economic growth and population increase. Most of their power supply is provided through coal, in spite of their commitment to finding clean energy sources. CPEC could help improve the situation in Pakistan. However, if the country is intent on clean energy as its main resource, then following China’s lead may not be the right choice. If CPEC is properly implemented, it could change the entire region forever. It would also prove that working together for the common good is profitable, and could encourage other countries to do the same. For now, we will have to wait and see how it turns out.

Source: Value Walk

Author: Joshua Rarrick

Date: 19/6/2019

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CPEC to turn AJK into Pakistan’s ‘economic engine’: Masood

MUZAFFARABAD: 

Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) President Sardar Masood Khan has stressed upon the need to chalk out a comprehensive strategy to turn the liberated territory into ‘economic engine’ of Pakistan through China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) related projects.

He expressed these views while speaking as chief guest at a conference titled “Special Economic Zone – Future Prospects and Potential”, organised by CPEC Center of Azad Jammu and Kashmir University in collaboration with Institute of Strategic Studies in Islamabad on Tuesday.

The conference was also addressed by AJK University Vice-Chancellor Professor Dr Kalim Abbasi and Director (Strategy) Special Economic Zones Hassan N Ansari among others.

President Masood said that one of the four mega CPEC projects have been completed in AJK while initial planning for two more projects has been worked out. Similarly, work on Mansehra-Muzaffarabad-Mangla-Mirpur highway would start from the next financial year, he added.

He urged universities, academia and media of the country to effectively counter-negate campaign against the CPEC initiative besides highlighting its socio-economic benefits.

Under the CPEC, nine special economic zones would be established across the country, including one in Mirpur, Azad Kashmir for which 1,185 acres of land has already been identified, said the president, adding that 571 acres of land would be acquired in the first phase and 614 acres in the second.

Sardar Masood Khan said that feasibility study including environmental study, topographic survey and other technical formalities for the Mirpur special economic zone have already been completed and handed over to the Chinese officials. Special incentives have been offered by the AJK government for investment in Mirpur economic zone, he added.

“These incentives include tax-free import of machinery and other equipment, construction of infrastructure, and permission to prospective investors to generate their own electricity to run the industries at local level.”

President Masood said the government has set up a board of investment (BOI) to attract investment by local and foreign investors as well as overseas Kashmiris, and work is in progress on a comprehensive policy to protect capital of the investors and to restore their confidence.

While enumerating challenges and difficulties, the AJK president said that planning is under way to ensure an uninterrupted supply of natural and electricity to the economic zone, setting up a dry port, introduction of e-filing system and establishing a railway link between Dina, Jhelum and Mirpur.

He said that the government was trying to ensure speedy development works in special economic zones, resolve environmental issues on priority basis, and to take on board the local industrialists and small business.

Speaking on the occasion, Prof Dr Abbasi shed light on efforts of CPEC center for the projection of economic corridor project. He also paid tributes to President Sardar Masood Khan for effectively highlighting the Kashmir issue at the OIC summit in Makkah.

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was also signed between China-Pakistan Study Center of ISSI and the Azad Jammu and Kashmir University, under which both the institutions will cooperate with each other in the field of education and research.

Source: Express Tribune

Date: 19/6/2019