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CPEC signifies economic stability of Pakistan: PM

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January 25, 2018

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DAVOS/ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Wednesday said the China Pakistan Economic Corridor signifies economic stability of Pakistan and it is portraying a positive image of the country.

The prime minister assured the international community that CPEC projects would be financially and environmentally sustainable and would be open to all for investment.

“We will ensure that these projects do not create distortions and will be inclusive and open to all,” said PM Abbasi while speaking at a panel discussion on Belt and Road Impact (BRI). The panel discussion took place during the second day of the 48th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF), which is taking place at Davos.

Panellists expressed enthusiasm after hearing the audience about the opportunities that the Belt and Road Initiative offers to the Euro-Asian countries. CPEC is an integral part of China’s strategic initiative that promises shared prosperity to all the participating nations.

The PM emphasised that the BRI initiatives must contribute to local community and assure job creation. He said CPEC has enabled Pakistani contractors to undertake mega road infrastructure projects, which was not possible five years ago. The BRI initiative is perfectly linked with 2018 WEF theme of “shared future in a fractured world”, said the prime minister. He said the BRI is indeed about creating shared future among the participant countries. Pakistan is the integral part of the BRI. BRI is much more than infrastructure projects.

The prime minister said that with the help of the BRI Pakistan has gained great investor confidence and investment is also coming outside the CPEC projects. He said the road and ports connectivity provides greater opportunity to landlocked Central Asia to connect with the rest of world. He said Pakistan through its port development can provide much more efficient connectivity to most of Central Asia. He said complementary policies and greater utilisation of resources will eventually create much greater financial stability.

Prime Minister Abbasi said the efficiency gains from clean energy and infrastructure building outpaced the cost of CPEC projects. He said that it was imperative that these projects remain inclusive. “Of course there are bilateral constraints but they should be available to local players,” he stated.

The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) President Jin Liqun underlined that his bank would finance only those projects of the BRI that are financially viable, environmentally sustainable and more importantly the local community own them.

“The AIIB will not finance the white elephant projects,” said Liqun. He said there were 48 AIIB member countries and all of them fall on the BRI, therefore, they were natural partners. The AIIB president said protectionism is a reality, but connectivity will reduce the protectionism.

Liqun said that even though the US was not member of the BRI, the AIIB was engaging with the US companies.

Russian Direct Investment Fund CEO Kirill Dmitriev said that the BRI was a solution to the fractured world. He said the Chinese strategic initiative has offered tremendous opportunities to the Euro-Asian countries.

AECOM CEO and Chairman Michael Burke said that 60 percent population of the world was living in the region of the BRI and this largest ever infrastructure project in the world history would provide greater opportunities to these countries to address their infrastructure deficiencies.

However, Burke said that the size and scale of the BRI suggests that no single country can meet these huge obligations and there was a need of collaboration.

Singapore Minister Chan Chun Sing said that the BRI will not only address connectivity issues in the short term but will also capitalise the economy of the participating nations.

When asked by the moderator to sum up the importance of the project and to win trust and confidence in one word, PM Abbasi said the BRI should create “jobs” while the other speakers called for continued broad-based consultation, common connectivity, sustainable social lessons, global collaboration and signature projects.

Prime Minister Abbasi also met Bill Gates, Co-Chairman of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, at the WEF. The prime minister thanked and appreciated the support provided by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to Pakistan, particularly for the polio eradication programme.

The prime minister discussed avenues of partnership in health, education and other social sectors with Bill Gates. Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and empowerment of farmers through financial and digital inclusion was also discussed during the meeting.

Bill Gates appreciated the tremendous progress achieved in eradication of polio during the last four years and the expectation that all the stakeholders will make the final push to achieve the cherished goal of complete eradication of polio from the remaining parts of the country.

In his meeting with Jin Liqun, Prime Minister Abbasi said Pakistan was the most enthusiastic supporter of AIIB in its early stages and expressed desire for building a strong and sustainable relationship with it.

The prime minister said the socio-economic integration and uplift of Fata was a major priority of his government. He emphasised that funding for water storage dams in Fata region would help in reintegrating and uplifting the region seamlessly.

The prime minister also sought the support of AIIB for implementation of some of shovel ready projects in water conservation, infrastructure and energy sectors.

Meanwhile, talking to Chief Executive Officer of Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) Tadashi Maeda, Abbasi said that the government would provide full support and facilitation to Japanese companies interested to invest in Pakistan.

The prime minister said Pakistan had made tremendous achievements towards political stability, law and order, energy security, and economic growth in the last few years.

"We are hoping that these positive indicators will incite Japanese companies and businesses to enhance their ties," he said.

The premier said there were 84 Japanese companies currently operating in Pakistan and many more were expected to enter Pakistani market at an exponential rate. He invited the JBIC to open its operations in Pakistan.

The JBIC CEO appreciated the economic stability achieved by Pakistan and evinced interest for investments in energy and telecom sectors.

Meanwhile, talking to CEO of Siemens AG Joe Kasser, the prime minister appreciated the long association of Siemens AG with Pakistan, particularly in the power generation and distribution sectors.

Cooperation for advanced education and training opportunities of young Pakistani engineers in the field of electrical engineering, seismic data processing and research and development (R&D) were discussed during the meeting.

Prime Minister Abbasi also met Sigve Brekke, CEO of Telenor in Davos. During the meeting, the prime minister appreciated that Telenor has created jobs for around 130,000 Pakistanis, directly and indirectly. He acknowledged Telenor’s investment in the training and development of its workforce and thanked the CEO Telenor for providing many Pakistanis the opportunity to work in a progressive environment.

The PM also met Dara Khowsroshahi, CEO of Uber Technologies Inc. at the WEF. The prime minister appreciated Uber for spearheading the model of a “sharing economy” and invited Uber to partner with Pakistani banks and the Prime Minister’s Youth Programme to help drivers in financing vehicles for Uber.

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