ISLAMABAD: September 19, 2019: Apropos news item titled ‘CPEC Shelved?” published in The News in its edition of September 19, 2019 wherein it has been erroneously reported that the work on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project is being scrapped or frozen. Rather than being shelved, the pace of the flagship project between the two friendly countries has picked up after the incumbent Government came into power.
CPEC was planned to be completed in three phases. The first phase of CPEC was to remove key economic bottlenecks namely energy and infrastructure. The current phase is about industrialization, socio-economic and agricultural cooperation and promoting business and consolidating developments.
In the first stage substantial work has been done. For instance, in the road category, a total of 1544 KM have been constructed and 1456 KM are under construction. In the energy sector, 5320 MW of electricity has been added to the national grid while work on 7 projects with 4170 MW power projects are nearing completion. Additional projects of 2844 MW are planned. Also, cross border optical fiber project which stretches over 820 km linking Khunjrab to Rawalpindi has already been completed. Regarding development in Gwadar, 10 projects in infrastructure and social sector development have either been completed or under construction. Among the completed projects, Gwadar port is functional. Most importantly, the Gwadar Smart Port City Master Plan for the integrated development of the city has been approved on 23 August, 2019 and ready for implementation. Moreover, tax concessions and investment incentives issue which was lingering since 2016 has been resolved which will enhance economic activity in Gwadar. The country’s largest airport, the New Gwadar International Airport groundbreaking was held on March 29, 2019 by Prime Minister.
Currently the focus is on industrialization, socio-economic development, agriculture modernization, blue economy and tourism promotion. Framework Agreements on Industrial cooperation, Agriculture and socio-economic development have been signed in November 2018. Developments of three special SEZs are on the priority namely; Rashakai, M3 Faisalabad and Dhabeji Thatta. Concession Agreement with CRBC for the Rashakai SEZ was signed in April 2019 and its groundbreaking of the zone is expected in early October. As the major obstacle in the establishment of these SEZs was to provide utilities to the Zone, the current government has agreed to provide the utilities at zero point through its own resources.
In the social sector development, 27 projects in the area of education, health, agriculture, poverty alleviation, agriculture and water supply have been identified of which 17 are on priority list and will be completed in this phase.
For the MLI project, financing committee has been constituted to expedite work on the ML1 Project. Negotiations for petro chemical plant, refinery and gas pipeline are also ongoing.
It is evident that CPEC IS ON TRACK and enjoying the full backing of the two countries. The roll back or slowing down of this flagship initiative is mere propaganda which is not based on ground reality and facts. Therefore, the news item is not based on facts and lacks veracity. Further, such baseless news also carries the risk of creating ambiguities and confusion regarding this all important framework between the two friendly countries.