Senate panel tells govt to demystify CPEC details

Updated March 16, 2019

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Senate special committee tells Planning Ministry to give information of CPEC projects with groundwork and timeline. — CPECinfo.com/File
Senate special committee tells Planning Ministry to give information of CPEC projects with groundwork and timeline. — CPECinfo.com/File

ISLAMABAD: A Senate committee on Friday asked the federal government to demystify details of projects and negotiations under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), criticising it for withholding key information that could affect coordinated response to the opportunities they offer.

The Senate special committee on CPEC, which met here at the Parliament House with Senator Sherry Rehman in the chair, voiced its concern over opaqueness surrounding the CPEC projects.

Besides senators, Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms Khusro Bakhtiar, secretary and other officers of the planning ministry, Board of Investment and National Highway Authority attended the meeting.

The committee directed the Ministry of Planning, Development and Reforms to give concrete information on the projects with groundwork, progress and timeline at the next meeting instead of providing open source information.

“Why is the [Senate] committee not being apprised about details of the projects? We come across more information in newspapers compared to what’s imparted to us during the committee meetings. It is the ministry’s responsibility to address the queries of committee members. They have serious reservations that need to be heard and responded,” said the former opposition leader in the Senate as the committee was briefed on the CPEC projects.

Members from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan especially were unanimous in protesting the lack of groundwork in their respective areas, including Gwadar, which was supposed to be at the centre of the CPEC Maritime-Silk Road linkage.

The committee was further briefed on the eighth CPEC Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) meeting held in Beijing in December 2018, but the Senate committee members sought details of the current situation of various projects under CPEC, as well as about further negotiations with the Chinese government.

Ms Rehman regretted that neither timeline nor terms and conditions of the CPEC projects had been furnished by the government. Saying that nothing could be kept hidden from a parliamentary committee, the chair of the CPEC committee in the Senate stated: “We are leading delegations to China, and China is asking questions. It is asking about the progress being made on the CPEC projects and here we are, kept in the dark by our government.”

Published in Dawn, March 16th, 2019