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June 14, 2019

Socio-economic uplift projects: New Chinese aid agency SIDCA to provide Rs151 bn grant


June 14, 2019


ISLAMABAD: The Senate Special Committee on China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was informed on Thursday that Pakistan was the first recipient country of newly formed Chinese aid agency State International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDCA) under which China would provide grant of $1 billion (Rs151 billion) for various projects of socio-economic uplift of Pakistan.

Briefing the committee, Secretary Planning Zafar Hassan said China would provide grant of $1 billion in two stages and under the first stage, the country would invest $200 to $300 million in 16 small social projects, which would be completed within a year while the rest amount would be issued in three years” time.

The meeting of the committee was presided over by its Chairperson Senator Sherry Rehman which was also attended by Minister for Planning, Development and Reform Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar.

It was disclosed in the Special Committee of Senate on Project of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that China had set up an aid agency on the lines of USAID, called SIDCA, and will be providing pure grants, with no repayment, to many of the Gwadar projects as well as to the socio-economic component of CPEC, because these are aimed at poverty alleviation and development assistance in key sectors identified by the government of Pakistan.

Convener Special Committee on Project of CPEC and parliamentary party leader PPP-P Senator Sherry Rehman in a meeting on Thursday expressed her displeasure over the lack of coordination and capacity evident in the briefing of the Ministry of Planning, Development and Reforms.

Sherry Rehman once again suggested that the planning function of CPEC from federal government required a separate secretariat and autonomous well-resourced CPEC authority, an idea which was supported by Minister Azam Swati who is a member of that committee.

The meeting was informed that under the fast track phase, China would help Pakistan in establishing China Pakistan Joint Agricultural Technical Laboratory (cotton, palm oil etc), smart class rooms project for higher education (50-100), overseas student scholarships programme (20,000), provision of healthcare equipment, Gwadar hospital project, Balochistan solar powered lighting equipment (10,000 households), Gwadar desalination plant, Pakistan vocational schools equipment upgrading and renovation project (50 centers), and others.

He said that a Chinese delegation was visiting Pakistan next month in this regard. Sherry Rehman, however, was not convinced with the Chinese model and asked the ministry to renegotiate with the Chinese side and review the priority sectors. "Except few, most of the projects in fast track phase of Chinese SIDCA model are not convincing," Secretary Planning assured the committee that they would convince the Chinese side in this regard to review the priority list.

Senator Usman Khan Kakar said Balochistan was the least developed area and yet it was not being given due attention. He said Balochistan needs water, so priority should be on allocating more funds for building small dams.

Minister Khusro Bakhtiar said the government was focusing on development of less developed areas specially Balochistan which is evident from the allocation of funds under Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) 2019-20.

The minister said that Rs9 billion had been earmarked for the road in PSDP 2019-20. He said in Gwadar, the government had also allocated a hefty amount for building transmission lines from Gwadar to connect the 300MW power plant to be built in the city with the national grid.

Convened by Senator Sherry Rehman, the meeting was attended amongst others by Senator Dr Sikandar Mandhro, Senator Muhammad Akram, Senator Dr Ghous Muhammad Niazi, Senator Dr Asad Ashraf, Senator Muhammad Usman Khan Kakar, Senator Muhammad Azam Khan Swati, Senator Mir Kabir Ahmed Muhammad Shahi, Senator Maulana Atta ur Rehman, Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms, Khusro Bakhtiar and senior officers from the Ministry of Planning Development and Reform along with all concerned.

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