Saturday October 16, 2021

Room for further improvement in CPEC, says Asad Umar

September 18, 2021
Room for further improvement in CPEC, says Asad Umar

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar conceded on Friday that there was room for further improvement in the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) but did not accept that the work on CPEC had got slowed down.

“We have entered into the second phase for expanding the scope under CPEC under which industrial and agriculture cooperation and socio-economic development will be the top priority of the government.

Everything was not done up to the mark but the PTI government had completed many projects under the first phase of CPEC,” Federal Minister for Planning Asad Umar said while addressing a news conference here at the P Block on Friday.

Accompanied by Special Assistant to PM on CPEC Khalid Mansoor, Minister for Planning Asad Umar dispelled the impression created by Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Planning and PPP leader Saleem Mandviwalla in the Senate panel meeting on Thursday that the work on CPEC had got slowed down and said he was surprised to hear about it because there was no truth in it.

The minister argued that there was a need to utter words about CPEC carefully because the Chinese were also listening to what we were saying here publicly.

The minister said that there was no $46 billion funding but an indicative agreement under CPEC showed the total estimated cost of $46 billion, out of which both sides had struck $26 billion agreement under the CPEC framework. Of the total $26 billion, the cost of accomplished projects stood at $16 billion while the projects of $11 billion were under implementation.

When asked why the PTI government had acquired over 5,000 MW electricity but was now complaining about increased capacity charges, the minister replied that the projects were completed under contractual obligations as all these projects were agreed upon prior to their government.

The minister said that two areas were on the priority list in the first phase of CPEC, including energy and infrastructure, as power projects for producing 3,340 MW got completed during the tenure of the PMLN government. When the PTI took power in 2018, they accomplished power projects that produced 5,864 MW in the last three-year period. There would be another 1,824 MW of electricity that would be connected to the national grid after completion of five-year tenure of the PTI government, he maintained.

He said that there was no work initiated on the Western Route during the tenure of the PMLN government while they had kick-started all projects for construction of the Western Route under CPEC. He said that some infrastructure projects were initiated by the PMLN but most of the work was accomplished in the last three-year rule under PTI. He said that Hevellian-Thahkot route was accomplished 47 percent in the PMLN tenure while 53pc work was done by PTI. The work on Multan-Sukkur Motorway was initiated by the PMLN and it accomplished 54 percent work while the remaining 46 percent was done by the PTI in the last three years. The D I Khan and Hakla Motorway was accomplished 42 percent under PMLN rule while 52 percent work was done by PTI. The Eastbay in Balochistan was largely constructed by the PTI government. The PMLN had constructed 394-km road network while the PTI accomplished 413-km road infrastructure.

The minister said that the scope of CPEC was expanded as work on Special Economic Zones (SEZs) at Faisalabad, Rashkai and Dhabiji was underway for promoting industrial cooperation. He said that the Joint Working Group on the agriculture sector was formed as work on eight different initiatives were underway.

He said that the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Authority became functional as Sialkot-Kharian Road-related transaction got approved by the board of PPP. The Karachi Circular Railways will also be approved by the PPP Board next month. Answering a query, he said that the prices of electricity would be reduced for the winter season but its exact details would be announced by Minister for Energy Hammad Azhar.