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February 25, 2020

Pakistan, China confident coronavirus won’t affect CPEC

National

February 25, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and China on Monday expressed confidence that the recent coronavirus outbreak in China will not affect the pace of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects and cooperation between Beijing and Islamabad will remain unaffected.

The National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) organised a five-day ‘Nepra Energy Week’ on Monday in which foreign and local experts and diplomats participated. Chairman CPEC Authority Lt Gen (R) Asim Saleem Bajwa at this occasion said, the coronavirus outbreak in China did not affect the speed of work on CPEC projects and work on these projects is advancing in full swing. He added that work on the second phase of CPEC is underway with full preparation.

Asim Saleem Bajwa said that with the passage of time, Pakistan’s demand for energy is increasing and for this purpose, under CPEC, steps have been taken to meet the energy demand. He appreciated the CPEC and termed it a symbol of strong brotherhood between Pakistan and China.

He further said that CPEC is a reality; it will have very much positive impact on the region. He said that completion of Motorway from Karachi to Peshawar, duration of journey between both the cities has reduced by half. He said power projects under CPEC will be completed on time. “Things will start appearing on the ground after June. Soon we will see a visible progress on the CPEC’s western route,” he added.

China’s Ambassador to Pakistan Yao Jing said that situation is improving in China after the outbreak of coronavirus; this epidemic will not affect the efforts of cooperation with Pakistan.

The ambassador said that cooperation in energy sector is one of the major components of CPEC. He said reforms process is continuing in various sectors of Pakistan including infrastructure. Sometimes, he said, the process of reforms is painful, but these are always necessary. He said China’s National Development and Reforms Commission will continue its cooperation in Pakistan’s energy sector.

The ambassador said that next stage of CPEC will focus on cooperation in sectors including agriculture, industrial, science and technology and renewable energy.

Minister for Energy Omar Ayub Khan said Prime Minister Imran Khan is taking keen interest in bringing improvement in energy sector. He said there is also a need to look into contracts of energy projects already been signed with the power producers. The capacity charges are being paid by the consumers. “Imported fuel raises pressure on rupee and foreign exchange reserves," he said.

The minister said the government is working to increase the production of renewable electricity, while emphasising the need to introduce technology in the energy sector. He said the country's energy sector provides an investment opportunity of $100 billion. He further said the combined volume of Pakistan the documented and undocumented GDP is around $600 billion.

“We are eyeing to fulfil 25 percent of the energy needs of the country using water resources by 2025 and increasing it to 35 percent by 2030,” he said.

Chairman Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) Lt Gen (R) Muzammil Hussain said that construction of big water reservoirs, including Diamer-Bhasha and Dasu dams, would cost $26 billion. He said that $15 billion is needed for Diamer-Bhasha Dam, $8 billion for Dasu Dam and $3 billion for Mohmand Dam. He said work on Bhasha Dam will commence this year and production will start from 2028. He said the dam will generate 4,500 megawatts electricity. He said construction work on Mohmand Dam would be completed in 2025 as per the timelines.

He further said that by 2025, around 4,600MW hydel power would be added to the national grid. And by 2030, the addition of electricity from this source will be around 16,000MW, while another 18,400MW by 2050.