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Senate special panel questions hiding of CPEC information

By Our Correspondent
March 16, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The Senate Special Committee on project of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Friday took notice of the ‘opaqueness’ surrounding CPEC-related projects and called for sharing all the related details.

The committee meeting, chaired by Senator Sherry Rehman, directed the Ministry of Planning, Development and Reforms to give concrete information on CPEC projects with groundwork, progress and timelines from next meeting onwards instead of providing open source information. “Why is the committee not being apprised of the details of the projects? We come across more information in the newspapers compared to what’s imparted to us during the committee meetings. It is the ministry’s responsibility to address the queries of committee members, they have serious reservations that need to be heard and responded,” she emphasised, as the forum was briefed regarding CPEC projects.

Legislators, particularly from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan protested over the lack of groundwork in their respective provinces including Gwadar, which is supposed to be the centre-piece of the CPEC maritime Silk Road linkage. The committee was briefed on the 8th JCC held in Beijing in December 2018 and members sought details into the current situation of various projects under CPEC as well as about further negotiations with the Chinese government.

Senator Sherry Rehman expressed reservations as neither the timeline nor the terms and conditions of the CPEC projects were furnished by the government. Saying that nothing could be kept hidden from a parliamentary committee, she said, “we are leading delegations into China and China is asking questions. It is asking about the progress being made on the CPEC projects and here we are, kept in the dark by our government”.

The committee was told that during the 8th JCC, MoU on industrial cooperation was signed and Pakistan has succeeded in securing a separate 1 billion US dollar grant for socio-economic development which will come in three years and will be spent in less developed areas of the country. The committee was told that the project of M-1 will be implemented in phases and that finalisation of preliminary design was in its final stage.

It was told that the desalination plants in Gwadar are now a part of the socio-economic development projects. Component of agricultural investment has also been added in CPEC projects which will include co-branding, value chain food processing, fisheries and livestock.

Senator Sherry expressed concern regarding gaps in communication. She said a general understanding among Pakistani people; especially regarding Special Economic Zones (SEZs) was that China would single-handedly make CPEC work.