Balochistan cabinet shocked by CPEC presentation

Published December 11, 2018
Cabinet members call CPEC spending "a joke", blast previous government for inaction. — File photo
Cabinet members call CPEC spending "a joke", blast previous government for inaction. — File photo

KARACHI: The Balochistan cabinet was left shell-shocked at the end of a briefing on the progress of CPEC projects in the province when it was revealed that no progress has been made in any projects outside Gwadar and the meagre share of the province in the overall portfolio of CPEC projects.

The briefing was provided by the CPEC Cell that the Balochistan government has recently established with help from the World Bank.

Also read: Balochistan voices concern over its share in CPEC projects

According to a source who was present during the meeting on Monday, which lasted all day, almost four hours were spent on the briefing from the cell.

The major finding of the cell was that all projects connected with the western route have seen no progress whatsoever, and the overall size of the portfolio of CPEC projects in Balochistan is miniscule where less than 9 per cent of the total committed, around $5.5 billion, is for the province and less than $1bn has been spent in four years. Of this $1bn, around $200m is accounted for by the Hub power plant.

The cabinet members described the CPEC spending thus far as “a joke” and they blasted the previous government for its inaction.

In the energy sector, the cabinet was informed that the current shortfall of 700MW in the province means that all the new power injected into the grid as a result of CPEC power projects has not found its way to Balochistan and that Makran Division has still not been connected to the national grid.

Two projects negotiated by the previous government — Quetta Mass Transit and PAT feeder to Quetta water project — will both be revisited by the new government.

“The debt and liabilities of both projects will be borne by the Government of Balochistan and the costs revealed in the feasibility are very high,” according to the source.

The Quetta Mass Transit cost, for example, is $912m which is larger than the total development budget of the provincial government. The cost of land acquisition, displacement and resettlement and income tax and customs duties are not included in this figure.

For the PAT feeder, the water will need to be pumped up to an elevation of 6,000 feet across a distance of 280km to reach Quetta, using 9 pumping stations at different points across the pipeline. The project cost is Rs40bn, also to be borne by the Balochistan government.

Outside of Gwadar, the cabinet was informed that the roads of the western route have seen no progress, and more than half of the Balochistan component of the western route is still not officially part of the CPEC agenda.

Without the inclusion of these projects in the agenda of the Joint Working Group on Transport and Infrastructure, the projects are not eligible for concessionary financing from CPEC funding lines. The federal government has committed to fund these from its development budget, but thus far the allocated funds have not been released despite a passage of three years.

The cabinet members were also annoyed that the Hoshab-Basima-Sorab section of the road has been shown as part of the western route by the federal government even though this project began in 2006 and is part of the common alignment.

The cabinet members agreed that the Balochistan government will take a bold and firm line for their province in the forthcoming Joint Cooperation Committee meeting scheduled to be held in Beijing next week.

Published in Dawn, December 11th, 2018

Opinion

Capacity for cruelty
04 Aug 2021

Capacity for cruelty

Those who believe in the human capacity to eschew cruelty are believed to be stupid and naïve.
Education crisis
Updated 04 Aug 2021

Education crisis

It is imperative to avoid measures that could further dent an already weak and vulnerable school system.
Off the planet
04 Aug 2021

Off the planet

Billionaires are yet to match the accomplishments of 60 years ago.
Films and reality
03 Aug 2021

Films and reality

It is hard to remember if films ever glamorised the relationship between first cousins.

Editorial

PML-N’s dilemma
Updated 04 Aug 2021

PML-N’s dilemma

The road ahead for the PML-N is going to be long and bumpy no matter which narrative it follows.
04 Aug 2021

Attacks on cops

AMIDST cautious optimism that Pakistan may be finally beginning to achieve success in bringing the number of polio...
04 Aug 2021

Myanmar about-face

SIX months into the coup that sent Myanmar’s hybrid civ-mil government packing, the generals have made their...
03 Aug 2021

Changing GB’s status

THE government’s plans to accord a provisional provincial status to Gilgit-Baltistan are progressing steadily and...
Taliban assault
03 Aug 2021

Taliban assault

Intra-Afghan peace talks should be promoted, but the global community must be ready for the imminent collapse of the Afghan state.
03 Aug 2021

Cancelling Aurat March

THE cancellation of Aurat March Faisalabad is exactly one of those ‘isolated incidents’ which, when viewed...