ISLAMABAD: Beijing has assured Pakistan of restoring funds supply to China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects, said Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed while speaking to Dawn after presiding over a meeting of the parliamentary committee on CPEC on Monday.
Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Yao Jing, who also attended the committee’s meeting and gave a briefing on his government’s policy regarding CPEC, said that to keep funding CPEC was among the priorities of China’s foreign policy viz -a-viz CPEC so that it could move forward, “making CPEC more sustainable,” stated an official press release issued following the meeting.
Senator Hussain said a delegation of four federal secretaries led by Planning and Development Secretary Shoaib Siddiqui was assured by the Chinese authorities during their recent visit to China that the Chinese government would continue to fund the CPEC projects under a new ‘financial mechanism’. These projects included building of the CPEC’s western route, the Karachi Circular Railway, and the dualisation and upgrade of Main Line-1 of the Pakistan Railways, he said.
The federal secretaries of communication, Pakistan Railways, Board of Investment and a secretary from the Sindh government were part of the delegation.
China had temporarily stopped funding of some projects particularly those related to the road network under the CPEC till further decision about ‘new guidelines’ to be issued from Beijing, according to media reports.
The Chinese government decision had been conveyed to Pakistan in the last Joint Working Group (JWG) meeting held in November 2017 that the previous procedure for the release of funds had been abolished. Under the previous procedure, the projects were to be approved at six different forums after which the funds were released.
The suspension of funds had also affected over Rs1 trillion road projects of the National Highway Authority (NHA). They are: 210-km Dera Ismail Khan-Zhob Road, at an estimated cost of Rs81 billion. Of this, Rs66bn will be spent on construction of road and Rs15bn on land acquisition. Also, the Rs19.76bn 110-km Khuzdar-Basima Road and the Rs8.5bn 136-km remaining portion of Karakarom Highway (KKH) from Raikot to Thakot have been affected.
At the parliamentary committee meeting that lasted over two and a half hours, Senator Hussain said the briefing given by the Chinese ambassador improved ‘satisfaction’ level on both sides, making CPEC more understandable for the media with transparency and access to information.
According to the official press release issued after the meeting, the Chinese ambassador termed Pakistan China’s “most important partner” and said China and Pakistan would protect their “common interests together”.
Published in Dawn, January 23rd, 2018