June 2020


Ansar Abbasi

June 14, 2020

ISLAMABAD: The Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) for the year 2020-21 contains around Rs21 billion allocation for projects under China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) – once considered a game changer for Pakistan.

Except a few major road and rail projects under the CPEC, the PSDP does not allocate money for any significant scheme. There is no mention of any allocation for any of the much-discussed industrial zones, which were to be established under the CPEC to general industrial and economic growth of the country.

The most conspicuous allocation under CPEC in the 2020-21 PSDP is for the construction of Zhob to Kuchlak Road, CPEC Western Corridor as Rs10 billion has been allocated for this project.

For the up-gradation of Pakistan Railways existing Main Line-1 (ML-I) and establishment of dry port near Havelian (2018-22) under Phase-1 of CPEC, the PSDP allocates Rs6 billion.

Construction of Karakorum Highway, Phase-II Havelian- Thakot (118.057 KM), is also part of CPEC for which an amount of Rs2.5 billion has been earmarked in the PSDP.

China Pakistan Economic Corridor Support Project (CPECSP) at the Ministry of Railways is also being launched with an amount of Rs50 million in the 2020-21 fiscal year. An amount of Rs60 million has also been allocated for the establishment of Center of Excellence for China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CoE-CPEC), PIDE.

The PSDP also promises the establishment of CPEC Support Unit (CSU) for projects and activities in GPA. Rs17.9 million has been allocated for the project.

For the expansion and upgradation of NGMS (next generation mobile service) (3G/4G) Services and Seamless Coverage along Karakorum Highway in support of CPEC in GB, the PSDP allocates Rs709 million.

For the construction of offices for the Intelligence Bureau along with CPEC in Soost, Gwadar, Khuzdar, Turbat, Mansehra, Gilgit, the PSDP allocates Rs40 million. This project will help improve security of the CPEC.

For the academic collaboration under CPEC Consortium of Universities, the PSDP spares Rs175 million for the year 2020-21.

For the strengthening of Core Network and Expansion of PERN (Pakistan Education and Research Network) footprints through CPEC Optical Fiber (PERN-III), the PSDP allocated Rs500 million to the Higher Education Commission.

For the construction of seawater desalination plant at Gwadar, the PSDP allocates Rs700 million. The plant will desalinate five MGD (millions of gallons per day) from sea.

For the construction of Nokundi-Mashkhel Road under CPEC, the PSDP earmarks Rs1 billion. For the improvement and widening of Chitral-Booni-Mastuj-Shandur road under CPEC, a total of Rs350 million has been allocated.

The PSDP also envisages the establishment of Project Management Unit (PMU) on China Pakistan Economic Corridor – Industrial Cooperation Development Project – worth Rs80 million.



The Newspaper’s Staff Reporter Updated 15 Jun, 2020

KARACHI: Well-known economist Dr Kasier Bengali has said that Pakistan’s economic policies are being made in Washington and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has sent its people to sit in major institutions, which is why there is no mention of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in the budget 2020-21.

Speaking during a webinar organised by the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (Piler) on Sunday, he said due to the influence from the West the government had placed CPEC in cold storage. “Pakistan’s economy is mainly relying on foreign loans, so the economic managers are trying to appease the IMF and other international lenders by not mentioning the CPEC,” he said.

“The budget 2020-21 is a traditional budget, which has no focus on changing economic priorities,” he remarked.

He said many industries in various sectors of Pakistan’s economy were feared to be closed down due to the economic crisis arising after the coronavirus pandemic, which may render millions of employees jobless.

Dr Bengali, who has himself remained the economic advisor to various governments in the past, said that no relief was provided to the working class in the budget 2020-21.

“In fact the budget 2020-21 is an attempt to extract maximum tax revenue from the pockets of the common people as the government has made the budget on instruction from the IMF,” he remarked.

According to him, the federal government is going to increase prices of utilities in September or October as the prices of electricity and gas have not been increased in the budget.

Dr Bengali pointed out that despite the economic crisis, the government has not reduced its non-development budget and funds for running government departments.

“The government has shifted the blame on Covid-19 for all ills of the economy, but before the pandemic the economy was already on the ventilator,” he said.

He said that Pakistan’s economy is being run on foreign as well as domestic loans and no measure has been provided to reduce the burden of loans.

“All economic targets for the budget 2020-21 are fixed ambitiously as the government had miserably failed to achieve any major targets fixed during the current fiscal year [2019-20],” he said, adding that the Federal Board of Revenue was lagging behind in its tax collection targets.

According to Dr Bengali, mafias are running the economy and industries in Pakistan. “For example, the sugar mafia has been receiving subsidies for many years, which is made legal, flour mills are receiving wheat on discounted rates but they sell flour at exorbitant rates and paper manufacturing industries have monopoly which is affecting the local publishing industry.”

He said once the prices are increased in Pakistan they don’t come down. The mafias create artificial shortage of supply, which further increases the prices. When the government reduced the prices of petroleum products, the cartel of petroleum companies has created artificial shortage of petroleum products all over the country, he said.

“Sindh and Balochistan are producing gas but they are not receiving the proportion of the subsidies. Punjab is consuming 60 per cent of fertilizer, whereas Sindh is using only 20 per cent and Balochistan only four per cent. Punjab is enjoying a major share in subsidies at the cost of Balochistan,” he remarked.

Published in Dawn, June 15th, 2020



From the Newspaper 26 Jun, 2020

APROPOS the editorial ‘Sharing CPEC facts’ (June 23). It is a well-known fact that secret agreements were made by the PML-N government with different Chinese parties involved in the project.

At the time of the signing, many well-wishers of Pakistan had voiced serious reservations against these agreements that pushed the nation into heavy debt.

Even at the time of the signing of the agreement, the PTI leadership had vowed to revisit the issue once it was in power. However, the agreements made by one government can have serious repercussions for succeeding administrations.

The PTI leadership after coming to power initiated serious efforts to get some of the clauses changed in the country’s favour. There is much that has been changed to favour Pakistan. For the sake of both countries’ interests, it is not possible to make these changes public

Owing to PTI efforts, the monopoly of Chinese firms has been removed and third party entry has been made possible.

These are sensitive issues. Caution should be exercised when commenting on matters of vital importance to Pakistan.

Mohammad Ali Bhatti


Published in Dawn, June 26th, 2020



Recorder Report 27 Jun, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Adviser on Finance and Revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh has stated that the government was taking several institutional steps to further speed-up implementation of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects.

The adviser was talking to Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Yao Jing who called on him on Friday and several matters of mutual interest came under discussion during the meeting.

Hafeez Shaikh emphasized that CPEC was the culmination and anchor of the great friendship and deep-rooted collaboration of the people and governments of China and Pakistan to realize their joint destiny, achieve their common objectives and ensure a more prosperous future for both nations.

He also appreciated the continuous and unwavering support that China had been providing to Pakistan as a true iron brother.

While reviewing the serious social and economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic across the globe, the adviser apprised the Chinese Ambassador of the wide-reaching measures government had taken to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 and was further planning for the provision of much needed relief especially to the low-income and vulnerable groups.

He also informed the Ambassador of the initiatives that were being undertaken to stimulate the economy in those difficult and uncertain times.

The Chinese Ambassador stressed that the people of China stood shoulder to shoulder by their Pakistani brethren. He also assured that China would provide enhanced investments in development projects that would both stimulate the economy and generate employment. Jing said China placed the highest value on its fraternal relations with Pakistan and thanked the Adviser for his consistent support.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020