ISLAMABAD: National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser on Thursday constituted a parliamentary committee on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to oversee ongoing projects despite “reservations” by members of the Senate over the move.

According to an official announcement by the National Assembly Secretariat, the speaker has constituted the committee in pursuance of motions adopted by the National Assembly during its sitting on Feb 21 and the Senate on March 1.

The committee comprises 14 members of the National Assembly and seven senators belonging to all major political parties having representation in parliament.

Move opposed by senators as special committee of Senate on economic corridor is already functioning

The members from the National Assembly are: Noor Alam Khan, Sher Ali Arbab, Sadaqat Ali Khan, Umer Aslam Khan, Mir Khan Mohammad Jamali and Zile Huma of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), Ghous Bux Khan Mahar of the Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA), Ahsan Iqbal, Murtaza Javed Abbasi, Syed Imran Ahmed Shah and Mehnaz Akber Aziz of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Raza Rabani of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Zahid Akram Durani of the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA) and Mohammad Aslam Bhootani, an independent MNA from Gwadar (Balochistan).

The names of seven senators will be included in the committee when they will be nominated by Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani in pursuance of the said motions.

It is interesting to note that a special committee of the Senate on the CPEC is already functioning and its members have even visited the sites of the project in Balochistan. The Senate committee is headed by Sherry Rehman of the PPP.

Sources in the Senate Secretariat told Dawn that members of the upper house were unwilling to become a part of the parliamentary committee formed by the speaker. They said that at a recent meeting of the House Business Advisory Committee presided over by Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani, a number of senators both from the treasury and the opposition, while expressing their views, had termed the formation of a new parliamentary committee on the CPEC unnecessary in the presence of the Senate committee.

The sources said that the senators were opposing the move fearing that the parliamentary committee was being formed so that the ruling party could get control of the secretariat presently functioning to facilitate the committee.

They said that it had been decided during the meeting that the Senate committee would not be abolished even if the speaker notified the formation of the parliamentary committee as it had happened in the past too.

When contacted, Leader of the House in the Senate Shibli Faraz, who had moved the motion in the house regarding formation of the parliamentary committee, said that he was unaware of the decisions taken by the business advisory committee as he had participated in it for a brief period due to his poor health condition.

Meanwhile, in the notification, the speaker has also elaborated the functions of the committee.

It says that the committee will perform functions of oversight of CPEC projects, monitor implementation of the projects and make recommendations for speedy and timely implementation of the projects.

The committee may make suggestions for improvements that may result in cost and time reduction as well as provision of better services to the public. Besides this, the committee will “endeavour to promote consensus and support for CPEC in the federation”.

The committee will be required to present its periodical reports to both the houses of parliament and it may make rules to regulate its procedure.

The projects being carried out under the CPEC are regularly being reviewed by a number of committees of the two houses of parliament, including the committees on planning and development and communications.

Published in Dawn, April 5th, 2019