LAHORE: The Exim Bank of China has released the first tranche of US $331.08 million (Rs33 billion) for the Lahore Orange Line Metro Train Project.

“The Exim Bank of China has released the first tranche of US $331.08 million (PKR 33 billion) for the under-construction Lahore Orange Line Metro Train Project which shows trust and confidence of the Chinese government in the leadership of Pakistan’s prime minister and chief minister,” CM’s adviser Khawaja Ahmad Hassaan told a press conference on Tuesday.

He said despite rumours, misinformation and speculations, release of such a huge amount to Pakistan clearly reflected the Chinese government’s trust and confidence in the PML-N regime.

“The Orange Line project marks history’s three big departures. First, never in the past did this happen that tendering took place in a government to government mode of cooperation. The PPRA rules do not come into effect when there are transactions at this level.

“Second, tendering was followed by negotiations with the lowest bidders to further solicit concessions. CR-NORINCO quoted a bid price of $2.139 billion for the project. After negotiations, we settled on $1.47 billion (without contingency) as the final cost of the project. Thus the government saved $600 million through negotiations. And third, departing from its policy, China handed over the entire civil works to the Punjab government which resulted in additional saving of Rs6 billion in sub-contracting,” Mr Hassaan claimed.

LDA’s chief engineer Israr Saeed said the release of over Rs33 billion included about Rs20 billion as mobilisation advance for the CR-NORINCO joint venture. Rest of the amount was related to the expense made by the LDA on behalf of the Punjab government for the civil works, he added.

Published in Dawn, May 18th, 2016