ISLAMABAD: The Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will meet on December 20 in Beijing to sign a framework agreement on industrial cooperation and pave the way for development of special economic zones starting with Rashakai in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
According to an official announcement, the Cabinet Committee on CPEC met on Friday and gave the go-ahead to sign industrial cooperation framework with China and encourage Chinese investors to relocate their industries. The meeting was chaired by Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reform, Makhdum Khusro Bakhtyar.
An official said a final version of the framework agreement on industrial cooperation had been shared with the Chinese side. He said all the four provincial chief ministers, prime minister of Azad Jammu and Kashmir and chief executive of Gilgit-Baltistan would be part of the Pakistani delegation. The Pakistani side will attend the 8th JCC led by federal planning minister.
The committee also issued instructions to relevant agencies to finalise a schedule for the groundbreaking of Rashakai Economic Zone at the earliest by removing all bottlenecks. The KP government has already entered into an agreement with the China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) for the development of Rashakai Industrial Zone in two years. The two sides, he said, would formally launch the Rashakai development project under which the Chinese firm would simultaneously launch a marketing campaign to attract investors.
The sources said the two sides are also expected to announce the financial close of $1.8 billion Lahore-Matiari Transmission Line and a Thar coal-based power project during the JCC meeting. The government had allowed in April this year an extension of 6-7 months in the deadline for financial close of these projects i.e. until Dec 1, 2018 which meant the projects would be required to achieve commercial operations by March 2021 instead of previous deadline of Aug 1, 2020.
Responding to a question, sources said the two sides have not yet finalised the financing plan for the $8.bn Karachi-Torkham Main Railway Line (ML-1) and were still in the process of discussions on involvement of a third party investor in the project.
“The committee discussed Transport Infrastructure Projects in detail including provincial as well as mass transit projects and instructed for developing a roadmap for Pakistan’s Railway Mainline-1,” the statement said.
The conveners of the Joint Working Groups on Energy, Infrastructure, Gwadar, Planning and Industrial Cooperation briefed the committee about the agenda of the forthcoming 8th JCC which was approved by Cabinet Committee on CPEC.
The committee expressed satisfaction over inviting all provincial chief ministers to participate in the JCC that would enable them to market their own industrial zones as well as negotiate their projects particularly new initiatives in the socio-economic development sector.
The meeting advised relevant agencies and provinces to identify pilot projects to be shared with the Chinese side so as to take advantage of the expanded base of CPEC to socio-economic development and agriculture sector.
The committee reviewed the progress on Gwadar projects. Completion of all codal formalities was directed for groundbreaking of Gwadar New Airport, Vocational Institute, Hospital, and 300 MW Power Plant not later than the first quarter of 2019.
It was decided to seek finances from China for the KKH Thakot-Raikot (remaining portion) and upgradation of Dera Ismail Khan-Zhob (Phase-1) project on the Western Route.
Mr Bakhtyar said the projects on the Western Route were a priority of the government that would open and ensure uplift of less developed areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.
The Cabinet Committee on CPEC reviewed progress on energy projects and instructed for encouraging investment in Thar Coal and renewable projects in the future.
Published in Dawn, December 8th, 2018