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November 30, 2018

Pakistan, China yet to finalise Gwadar projects

Top Story

November 30, 2018

ISLAMABAD: With no possibility of striking a deal on Mainline (ML-1) during the upcoming Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) under CPEC next month, Pakistan and China are all set to finalise Gwadar projects including establishment of international airport with estimated grant of $223 million and some other social sector projects.

Both sides in upcoming JCC will also consider small socio-economic development projects up to $1 billion on request of Islamabad for execution in all four provinces.

In another relevant and important development, Balochistan’s provincial cabinet has granted approval for issuance of No Objection Certificate (NOC) for providing land to China on 40 years lease for establishment of 300 Megawatt Coal-fired power project at Gwadar. So this deal has almost been done and now execution on this project will kick-start in months ahead.

“The JCC under CPEC is expected to meet tentatively on December 18 and 19 at Beijing in which Gwadar development projects mostly with grant money will be finalized. The socio-economic working group in consultation with provinces is in process of finalizing projects up to $1 billion which will be executed over next few years and transfer of technology (TOT) for agriculture sector in specific areas will be requested,” top official sources confirmed to The News here on Thursday. The groundbreaking of New Gwadar International Airport (NGIA) is expected to be done next month.

The establishment of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) into industrial cooperation will be discussed in upcoming JCC as so far one SEZ at Rashakai has reached final stages. Now KP government and China’s giant are going to finalise deal after which efforts will be made to relocate some industrial units into upcoming SEZs. Then the SEZ at Faisalabad in Punjab and third in Sindh at Dhabeji will be made operational.

Pakistan and China will take up cooperation in area of poverty reduction as Islamabad has requested to Beijing to replicate its experience on this subject. Now International Poverty Reduction Center in China (IPRCC) will be made partner on this initiative to replicate it for reducing poverty in the country.

The up-gradation of ML-1 project of Pakistan Railways will come under discussion but there is no possibility of striking any deal because mode of financing has not yet been finalized. Pakistan has requested to shift ML-1 from EPC mode to BOT (Built-Operate and Transfer) and now both sides will discuss execution of the project in phased manner. “Pakistan may propose to finance one portion of the project from its own resources and remaining it will propose to be done in phased manner,” said the official and added that the cost of the project would depend upon the scope of the project.

On establishment of 300 MW coal fired project at Gwadar, the sources said that once serious efforts were made to shift it from coal to dual facility of RLNG and furnace oil during the tenure of last PML-N-led regime and even former minister for planning Ahsan Iqbal wanted to move ahead but he was bypassed from PM House and this project was not shelved or transferred on RLNG. Now the sources in Planning Commission argued that the finalised deal between sovereign states must be honoured.

Secretary Ministry of Planning Zafar Hassan said that the scope of CPEC has expanded and brought socio economic and transfer of technology into agriculture and poverty reduction so bilateral cooperation would be further increased in months and years ahead.

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