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National

May 22, 2018

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China to continue concessional financing under CPEC

ISLAMABAD: China on Monday assured Pakistan that Beijing would continue financing projects after conversion of concessional loans from domain of its Ministry of Commerce (Mofcom) to newly established China Aid just like on the pattern of USAID.

This process of conversion has caused some delays in execution of some crucial projects like ML-1, Karachi Circular Railway and others under China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in Pakistan but now this conversion was done and there would be no more delays.

Chinese Ambassador in Pakistan who participated in last review meeting for analysing progress on China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) before completion of PML-N led regime five year tenure under chairmanship of Federal Minister for Planning Ahsan Iqbal here on Monday, assured Pakistani side that the newly established China Aid had become operational and they would continue concessional financing in Pakistan under CPEC.

“The CPEC review meeting considered Master Plan for Gwadar under which it was projected that population in Gwadar would touch 2 million from 2035 to 2050 from existing slightly over 0.1 million. This population will go up to 0.3 million by 2025 and will be increased to 0.4 million by 2035,” Federal Minister for Planning Ahsan Iqbal told reporters after CPEC review meeting held here on Monday evening.

Regarding ML-1, the minister said that Pakistan had sought concessional funding for construction of over $8 billion railway line from Peshawar to Karachi but conversion from Mofcom to China Aid caused delay in finalising of this project but now China assured them to execute projects in speedy manner.

He said the ministries/divisions and departments were directed to complete feasibility studies and other procedural requirements till holding of next general elections in next two to three months so that the upcoming government could resume CPEC work without any further delays.

“We have so far energized $30 billion projects in period of 3 years and it could have touched $40 billion if PTI had not wasted one year in the wake of sit ins in 2014,” he added. On establishment of Special Economic Zones (SEZs), the minister said the Board of Investment and other concerned agencies were directed to analyse incentive package being offered by other countries like Cambodia, Vietnam and others so that relocated industry from China could be incentivized.

He said the SEZ in Islamabad would be constructed along with newly established Islamabad Airport as scarcity of land in the federal capital had become major problematic area as land in the range of 100,000 acres was not available at one place in the federal capital. “We have instructed to construct SEZ in jurisdiction of New Islamabad International Airport even outside Islamabad territory in order to align cargo with newly established facility” he added.

Regarding provinces reluctance to incentivize SEZs, he said that the federal government could provide overall framework and could help building infrastructure but provinces would have to compete on maximising industries in their respective areas. He hoped that the provinces would compete to lure industries relocation in their respective SEZs.

He said that Pakistan plunged itself into wrong wars and there was need to convert our focus from geo-strategic to geo-economics for achieving progress. He said that he was thankful to God as he survived from attack of bullet in order to complete CPEC projects.

When asked him to comment on 100 day plan of PTI after coming into power, he said that Imran Khan should reply on 1825 days regarding his party performance in KP. He said that KP could not copy Punjab because it requires wisdom which they don’t have as the situation in Peshawar had exposed them when they started constructing Metro at last stage that turned the city into ruins.

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