We have noted recent media reports questioning the viability of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), claiming that it would create an unbearable debt burden for Pakistan. Such media reports are often one-sided, distort facts, and are based on irresponsible statements by individuals who either have no understanding of CPEC or are driven by ulterior motives. While constructive critiques and recommendations by experts and analysts are always welcomed, however it is important that such critiques be informed by research based on factual information rather than mere partial opinion.
It must be clarified that CPEC projects are financed through a composite financing package comprising long-term government-to-government concessional and preferential loans, as well as grants from the Government of China. Repayments on these loans would not commence in the immediate future.
Energy sector is a key priority area under CPEC’s early-harvest phase and responds to our immediate energy needs. Chinese companies are investing in the energy sector in IPP mode and have raised funds from Chinese banks and investors. These do not constitute any debt obligation on the Government of Pakistan.
It is because of the favourable financing arrangements that Pakistan opted for Chinese investment under CPEC. China stepped forward to support Pakistan’s development at a time when foreign investment had dried up, and economic activity was being crippled by energy shortages and infrastructure gaps.
CPEC has provided enormous opportunities for Pakistan to grow economically. It is an engine for economic growth and will increase Pakistan’s GDP up by 2% to 3%. CPEC has also facilitated in overcoming crucial energy, transport infrastructure and supply chain bottlenecks. Under CPEC, development of Gwadar would ensure strengthening of maritime sector particularly the coastal tourism and local fishery industry thereby benefitting the local communities.
Pakistan has repeatedly stated that it is fully committed to CPEC, which enjoys complete consensus among all institutions and political forces in Pakistan. It is a win-win project that is key to the future of Pakistan’s socio-economic development. It is not surprising that detractors of Pakistan-China cooperation are presenting a negative image of CPEC and the benefits that it brings to the people of Pakistan. Their negativity cannot weaken our resolve and commitment to CPEC.
Pakistan offers attractive investment opportunities. We welcome all countries to take advantage of this favourable environment and to invest in developmental projects in Pakistan instead of levelling unfounded criticism against a country that has stood by Pakistan at all times.