Tuesday August 16, 2022

PM Shehbaz Sharif orders release of Rs50bn to Chinese IPPs

Shehbaz said that his government was moving towards providing all kinds of facilities to pace up work on CPEC

May 31, 2022
PM Shehbaz chairing a meeting on Chinese investment companies in Islamabad on May 30, 2022. Photo: PID
PM Shehbaz chairing a meeting on Chinese investment companies in Islamabad on May 30, 2022. Photo: PID

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif Monday directed the authorities concerned to immediately release Rs50 billion to Chinese Independent Power Producers (IPPs) as the first instalment out of outstanding dues of Rs340 billion.

The PM chaired a meeting here and approved the immediate payment. With failure in opening up a revolving account as envisaged under CPEC and delays in payments over four years, the amount piled up to Rs340 billion.

The planning secretary briefed the PM about the progress achieved so far on special economic zones (SEZs), multi-billion-dollar ML-1 project, Karachi Circular Railway, power sector projects especially for solar energy. 

He said that the government was moving towards providing all kinds of facilities to pace up work on CPEC. He said that the government envisaged deadline for completion of all CPEC projects and these timelines would be adhered to avoid delays in completion of projects.

Later, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif chaired a meeting of chief executive officers (CEOs) of Chinese companies working on CPEC projects in Pakistan. Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal and Chinese embassy's senior officials attended the meeting.

The officials of Chinese companies engaged with CPEC road, port and energy projects especially participated in the meeting. The companies’ representatives heaped complaints on PM Shehbaz Sharif in the meeting, saying work remained almost halted on CPEC projects during the past four years.

The PM issued various orders on the spot for resolving the issues, pointed out by the companies CEOs. The companies expressed their satisfaction at the measures taken by the coalition government. They hoped work on CPEC projects would be carried out and completed on “Pakistan Speed” now. They hoped the new government to be formed after elections next year would give priority to CPEC projects.

Addressing heads of the leading Chinese companies and investors, the PM said in view of China’s immense progress in the last three decades, Pakistan was interested in learning from Beijing’s experience in reforms, particularly in trade and agriculture. He said Pakistan was looking toward China to seek support in every walk of life in a bid to ensure sustainable development. He said the Chinese development was a model to emulate in fields of industry, trade, information technology, and agriculture.

He said with a background of a trusted friendship between the two countries, it was an opportunity for Pakistan to learn from the Chinese experience about reforms in the areas of public interest. He emphasised the need for promoting bilateral trade by means of improving the level of exports and imports in diverse areas.

He said Pakistan was also interested in learning skills from China for the enrichment of its energy resources. He thanked Chinese President Xi Jinping for extending his support to Pakistan in the shape of the multi-billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project, which he said was helping Pakistan to move forward.

He regarded President Xi as a visionary leader and recalled that he had inked several projects along with the then prime minister Nawaz Sharif to improve power generation in Pakistan aimed at addressing the energy crisis. He expressed confidence that the friendship between Pakistan and China would further grow with time for the benefit of their nations. Separately, taking note of increase in flour prices in the country, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif Monday directed the authorities concerned to ensure its sale at the rate, fixed by the government.

“Nobody can be allowed to loot masses and, therefore, availability of flour at the government rate should be ensured,” he said. He directed the ministries of Food Security, Industrial Production and other departments to submit reports on implementation of the orders.

Also, PM Shehbaz said there would be no cut in the budget of higher education sector for the fiscal year 2022-23, and the Higher Education Commission (HEC) should be made functional, as it was working in the previous PMLN government.

Issuing directives to the ministries of Planning and Finance regarding the HEC, the PM regretted that budget cuts in the last four years had a negative impact on higher education, saying that the process should be reversed.

He directed the authorities concerned to focus on revival of education projects in universities across the country and increase the number of programmes to bring the education sector on a par with international standards.

Shehbaz said the HEC resources should be increased significantly and all possible facilities be provided to teachers and students. According to a Foreign Office statement, issued on Monday, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif would pay an official visit to Turkey, the first after assuming office, from May 31 to June 2.

The PM will be accompanied by a high-level delegation comprising ministers, special assistants, and senior officials. A business delegation from Pakistan comprising representatives of leading companies across various sectors will travel separately to Turkey to participate in the business engagements.

During the visit, the PM will hold talks with President Erdo an. This would be followed by delegation-level talks. Besides covering the entire gamut of Pakistan-Turkey bilateral relations, the two leaders will exchange views on regional and international issues. Both leaders will address a joint press talk after their meetings. President Erdo an will host a dinner in honour of the prime minister.

This year, Pakistan and Turkey are celebrating the 75th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations. During the visit, the Pak PM and Turkish president would jointly unveil a logo, marking the commencement of celebrations of this important milestone in the long history of exceptional bilateral ties.

The Turkish ministers of Foreign Affairs, Trade, and Health would call on the PM during the visit. The PM will have extensive interaction with leading Turkish businessmen and potential investors from diverse sectors. He will be hosted by president of the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB).

The PM will also attend a Pakistan-Turkey Business Council Forum, hosted in collaboration with DEIK (Turkish Foreign Economic Relations Board). During these events, the PM will highlight Pakistan’s vast investment potential and encourage Turkish companies to invest in Pakistan and work to strengthen Pakistan-Turkey trade and economic ties. Prominent businessmen from Pakistan will participate in these events and will also hold B2B meetings on the sidelines.

A large number of Turkish companies have invested more than US$1 billion in different sectors (construction, power, solid waste management, hygiene products, electronics and dairy etc.,) in Pakistan. Prominent investors include Al Bayrak, Oz Pak, Zorlu, Arcelik, Siyahkalem, Sutas, Coca-Cola Icecek, and Hayat Kimiya. Heads of selected Turkish companies will also call on the PM during his stay in Ankara.

PM Shehbaz Sharif also said that democracy had strengthened with the local government (LG) elections in Balochistan. In a tweet, he said people’s active participation in polls shows their trust in state institutions to provide security and ensure smooth conduct of polls. The PM lauded the role of law-enforcement agencies in maintaining peace during the polls.