Slow pace of work on CPEC irks Chinese companies

Published September 17, 2021
In this 2016 file photo, the Chinese and Pakistani flags fly on a sign along a road towards Gwadar. — Reuters
In this 2016 file photo, the Chinese and Pakistani flags fly on a sign along a road towards Gwadar. — Reuters

ISLAMABAD: A Senate panel on Thursday expressed concern over the slow pace of development on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and dissatisfaction being expressed by the Chinese companies over the negligible progress over the past three years.

While presiding over the Senate Standing Committee on Planning and Development, its Chairman Saleem Mandviwalla said the Chinese were not satisfied with the pace of work on CPEC and no progress on the portfolio was seen during the last three years. “They are crying”, said Mr Mandviwalla, adding the “Chinese ambassador has complained to me that you have destroyed CPEC and no work was done in the past three years,” he said.

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on CPEC Affairs Khalid Mansoor also endorsed Mr Mandviwalla saying the Chinese companies were not satisfied with the government’s institutions and their pace of work. He said he himself was not satisfied with the progress of work on Gwadar Airport and assured the panel that things were now on recovery mode.

Mr Mansoor, who recently joined the government after it removed former CPEC Authority chief Asim Saleem Bajwa, briefed the committee on the issues faced by the investors in terms of compliance with investment and agreement of CPEC – Phase 1 Power Projects. These included payment issues of independent power projects (IPPs), long outstanding overdues, establishment of revolving account for automatic payments and increase in withholding tax (WHT) on sponsors’ dividends post investment to 25pc from 7.5pc.

Adviser assures Senate panel things are now in recovery mode

He said the authorities now plan to set up a investment facilitation centre to offer One Window Operation to all Chinese investors. He said 135 Chinese companies were operating in Pakistan on CPEC and other projects and top priority was now to revive the confidence of those working on CPEC.

On the financial and physical progress of all major CPEC projects, the committee was informed that 21 projects of $15.7bn were completed. Of this, 10 were power projects of 5,320MW and HVDC transmission line amounting to $9.6bn, five infrastructure — Roads, Mass Transit and Optical Fibre amounting to $5.8bn, two projects relating to Gwadar Port and Free Zone and City Master Plan amounting to $300 million, four Social Economic Development amounting to $140m. A total of 31 projects amounting to $9.3bn are under implementation and 36 projects worth $28.4bn are under consideration.

Mr Mandviwalla expressed resentment that proposals and recommendations of the committee on various development projects at provincial and federal level were not considered by the Planning Ministry for inclusion in PSDP.

Planning Minister Asad Umar said the final approval of the PSDP projects was given by the National Economic Council (NEC). “The NEC approval is final,” he added, explaining that March 31 next year would be the last date for any project to be taken to the NEC. The committee directed that relevant sections should pre-plan for the next year so that projects required at federal and provincial levels could be sent to the planning ministry before February.

Published in Dawn, September 17th, 2021

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