LAHORE: The work on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects is expected to speed up after the Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) meeting to be held later this year.

This was indicated by Chinese Consul General Lahore Zhao Shiren during his visit to Dawn office here on Tuesday.

The meeting of JCC on CPEC will be preceded by the first official visit of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to China next month.

“Pakistan PM Shehbaz Sharif is coming to China next month and after his visit JCC meeting will be convened later this year to ensure that all CPEC projects see smooth functioning. Work on pending projects will be resumed and they will be put on fast track to make sure that they meet the deadline,” Mr Shiren said.

Mr Shiren further said the CPEC was not alone a Chinese project, Pakistan needed to take its full ownership. “It is for the people’s livelihood as it has improved Pakistan’s infrastructure, alleviated energy crisis, playing a pivotal role in getting Pakistan out of poverty and embarking on the path of growth and recovery. The CPEC should be implemented wisely as a lot of work in this respect has to be done,” he said.

To a question about ‘certain hiccups’ in the CPEC in the past, he said: “No matter which party in Pakistan is power…the CPEC is here to stay as it is more for the people than the government. It will help primarily with the acute power shortage which Pakistanis are facing today.”

Talking about the fate of the multi-billion ML-I project, the Chinese consul general said: “It is in the pipeline and going to be launched. Let me make it clear that this project was always there. Pakistan needs it the most. It is one of the major components of the CPEC.”

He was of the view that financing and technical issues of ML-I were being resolved. “A banking consultant will be appointed to arrange finances for this project,” he informed.

Earlier, the Senate Standing Committee on Railways was informed on Monday that the ML-1 project of Pakistan Railways, which was to revolutionise the entire railway network of Pakistan, had been delayed due to the poor handling of the previous PTI government, and its cost had also jumped up.

Secretary Railways Syed Khalid Ali Gardezi informed the committee that certain security-related issues and uncertain situation also caused delay in the project which would now cost $9.8 billion instead of $6.8bn.

China tops among flood donation countries China tops among the countries that provided flood assistance to Pakistan. “China has provided a collective assistance of over $90 million to Pakistan to help flood victims,” Mr Shiren said.

The Chinese government, military and its companies operating here had contributed to the funds for the flood affectees, he said. “We will continue providing more assistance to the flood victims,” he declared.

“The Chinese construction companies may also be engaged during the rehabilitation work,” he said, adding China stood by Pakistan in this hour of need. China would continue supporting Pakistan for its rehabilitation efforts. Mr Shiren stressed for more people-to-people contacts to bring both countries closer. “We are also introducing different exchange programmes to further enhance the people’s interaction,” he said.

Published in Dawn, October 12th, 2022

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