PM orders removal of irritants from corridor projects

Published April 23, 2015
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif ordered completion of all procedural formalities and removal of irritants in the way of $28 billion ‘early harvest’ projects to be set up by China by 2017. — AFP/file
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif ordered completion of all procedural formalities and removal of irritants in the way of $28 billion ‘early harvest’ projects to be set up by China by 2017. — AFP/file

ISLAMABAD: A day after the departure of Chinese President Xi Jinping, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif ordered completion of all procedural formalities and removal of irritants in the way of $28 billion ‘early harvest’ projects to be set up by China by 2017.

Planning and Development Minister Ahsan Iqbal said at a news briefing on Wednesday that Mr Sharif had presided over a meeting of the ministries and agencies concerned to get a rundown on the proposed projects and agreements signed under the Pakistan-China Economic Corridor (PCEC).

Read: Economists call for more transparency on corridor projects

He said the meeting had decided that the Planning Commission would be a focal point for coordination and monitoring of implementation of the projects while the prime minister himself would hold weekly meetings to review progress.

He said the prime minister would travel on the western route of the corridor over the next few days so that people could come to know about the original route, instead of relying on misconceptions being created by vested interests.

Mr Iqbal criticised ‘hidden hands and some politicians’, and also India, for trying to make the multi-billion dollar framework controversial.


Minister accuses some ‘hidden hands’, politicians of creating controversy


He said that projects worth about $37bn were pure investments by China while another $11bn portfolio was in the form of soft-term loans to be repayable in 15-20 years.

This put the total figure at $48bn unlike the rounded off figure of $45bn he had been quoting in previous press conferences and written statements.

Also read: Fazl says govt creating confusion over corridor route

Answering a question, the minister said the issue of mark-up on the $11bn loans was in final stages of negotiations and, therefore, he could not give an exact figure. But, he said it would be the lowest rate available to Pakistan from around the world. To give just an idea, he said normal commercial loans at present ranged between four and five per cent while the Chinese loan would be lower than half this rate.

He alleged that some hidden hands had flooded concocted maps of the PCEC routes on internet to create confusion and India was repeatedly showing these maps on its television channels which showed where these maps were coming from. Because of these, he added, the project had been delayed for eight months.

He said the corridor was now a project of national development and progress which should be supported by the entire nation as no province or area would be left out in this great initiative. The elements trying to instigate provincialism should be identified and singled out because the success of the PCEC now depended on national unity and cooperation.

He said it was unjustified on part of the opposition parties to criticise metro bus or Orange Line mass transit project in Lahore or other cities of Punjab. He said the provincial governments were fully empowered and financially viable to plan and set up similar projects in their provinces. If the Punjab chief minister was working hard for the development of his province, others should not criticise him.

He said the PML-N government had never obstructed development projects proposed by any province and would welcome the governments of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh to carry out similar projects. On the contrary, he said, the prime minister had decided to gift the Green Line mass transit project to Karachi out of federal resources.

Published in Dawn, April 23rd, 2015

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