NEWS COVERAGE PERIOD FROM JAN 27 TO FEB 02, 2020
CPEC TO HELP FULFIL PAKISTAN’S FOOD SECURITY NEEDS: EXPERTS
By News Desk Published: January 28, 2020
With the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) entering the second phase, the corridor will not only improve Pakistan’s connectivity within the country and with China, but also with over 60 other countries part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). One expected impact of this connectivity will be better food security for the country.
This was discussed during a policy dialogue on ‘National Agriculture and Food Security in Pakistan’. The dialogue was held at the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) in Islamabad on Monday in collaboration with the Pakistan Agriculture Scientists Forum (PAS-Forum).
Presenting an overview of Pakistan’s agriculture sector, Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) Chairman Dr Azeem Khan emphasised the need for better productivity in various potential agriculture sub-sectors. The aim of this should not only be to address the country’s food security concerns, but also to elevate it to meet standards for international trade.
Dr Azeem lamented that Pakistan used to be a net food exporter until 2013 when it started to become a net food importer.
The second phase of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) offers a good opportunity to help the agriculture sector recover, but the onus largely lies with the government to set targets and strategies carefully to benefit from upcoming opportunities.
The PARC chairman called for alleviating the agriculture sector through a business-oriented model, which, in his opinion, can only be done through value addition — converting raw materials into standard commercial products and brands.
He highlighted that a combination of different commodities and products being manufactured along the CPEC routes have significant potential.
There is a huge potential for the production and export of fodder, edible oils and palm oil, whereas pulses and oilseeds are some other lucrative areas which can be invested in.
He, however, pointed out that post-harvest losses remain a concern in the country, before adding that the solution lies in careful measures taken in the areas of production, diversification, post-harvest handling, processing, certification, and value addition – all aimed at converting the harvest into high-value products while enabling them to maintain standards for international trade.
Dr Azeem also spoke fervently about the prevalent state of malnutrition in Pakistan, terming it unprecedentedly high while maintaining that making Pakistan nutritionally food secure should be the government’s top-most goal.
University of Agriculture Faisalabad Professor Dr Amanullah Malik spoke about potential and opportunities for Pakistan’s agricultural sector with regards to CPEC and its mega projects. He noted that there several agriculture items where Pakistan has an edge over the rest of the world, especially when it comes to China.
The professor noted that unbeknownst to most, China is the world’s largest import of farm produce, and China alone accounts for around 10 per cent of the world’s total farm produce trade.
China is a net importer of bulk agriculture products and there has been rapid growth in its imports from BRI countries recently, he said.
In this regard, he said that Pakistan can find a voracious client in China for crops such as soybean, barley, corn, wheat and cereals.
Rice is the country’s major export to China but there is potential to export several other agricultural products as well, Dr Amalik said.
In the field of fruit, he said that Pakistan looks to export its cherries, grapes, mangos, guavas and oranges. He pointed out that despite the hostilities and trade disputes between Beijing and China, around 70% of China’s agriculture imports still come from the US, and handful of other countries in South America, South East Asia, the European Union and Australia.
He warned that breaking these long-established and standardized supply routes will be very challenging, but it can be done. But to do that, it was necessary to improve the standards of our product to be able to compete with these countries.
Pakistan has fallen behind in utilising technology for fulfilling its agricultural requirements when compared to other countries, Haripur University Vice-Chancellor Dr Anwarul Hasan Gilani said, noting that there is a pressing need for using modern technological systems and methods to could cope with present-day challenges such as global warming and climate change.
The speaker emphasized the need to focus and invest in building the capacity of locals apart from improving access to international markets.
He called for taking immediate measures, such as making crops nutritive and resilient to climate change, rescuing of more farmland, empowering of small landholders, de-urbanisation, preservation of water, recycling of crop/livestock waste and saving of food through public awareness drives if Pakistan is to answer its rising food security threats.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 28th, 2020.
PM KHAN ORDERS SPEEDY COMPLETION OF CPEC PROJECTS
APP Updated January 29, 2020
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday said the ongoing development projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) should be completed on a fast-track basis and directed to give final shape to the consultation process of the future plans on priority.
Lauding the time-tested friendship with the northern neighbour, he said China had always supported Pakistan during the difficult times and CPEC was a manifestation of the multi-dimensional partnership between the two countries.
He also observed that Chinese experiences in the social sector, especially for the eradication of poverty and promotion of agriculture, must be fully explored, Prime Minister Office Media Wing in a press release said.
The prime minister was chairing a high-level review meeting to ascertain progress on different CPEC projects. Revenue Minister Hammad Azhar, Planning Minister Asad Umar, Finance Adviser Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Maritime Minister Syed Ali Haider Zaidi, CPEC Authority Chairman Lt Gen (retd) Asim Saleem Bajwa, Naya Pakistan Housing Programme Chairman Lt Gen (retd) Anwar Ali Haider and other senior officials also attended.
The premier directed the CPEC Authority to accelerate implementation pace on different projects under the second phase on priority.
Giving direction for early finalisation and completion of the projects, Khan asked the relevant ministries to set completion period and emphasised upon making the inter-ministerial coordination more effective to achieve desired results within the appointed time frame.
He also directed to brief him in the upcoming review meeting on the projects falling under the CPEC second phase, including their completion period, implementation, removal of hurdles and the future mechanism.
The prime minister was briefed in detail over the progress on the short, medium and long-term CPEC projects.
The meeting was apprised about the first phase of CPEC projects in energy, road and rail networks and Gwadar Port, and the second phase schemes, including industrialisation cooperation, promotion of agriculture, social and economic progress, tourism and others.
It was informed that majority of the projects in the energy and road networks had been completed whereas work on the Gwadar Port and airport was under progress phase-wise.
The Orange Line project was completed while consultation process over feasibility of Quetta railway was underway.
Khan had already laid the foundation stone of the Allama Iqbal Special Economic Zone while Rashakai’s was expected in the next month.
The bidding process for Dhabeji Economic Zone would be completed soon, it was further informed.
The meeting also took stock of different recommendations regarding proposed projects under CPEC phase two, in the education and health sectors, housing scheme for the low income groups, poverty reduction, Ehsaas poverty programme and eradication of malnutrition and stunting issues.
Published in Dawn, January 29th, 2020
SECOND PHASE CPEC PROJECTS: MINISTRIES ASKED TO SET TARGETS, TIMELINES
By ZAHEER ABBASI on January 29, 2020
Prime Minister Imran Khan directed all the relevant ministries on Tuesday to set targets and timelines for timely completion of the second phase projects of social and economic development under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)
While chairing a high-level meeting on the progress of CPEC projects, the Prime Minister directed for making more effective inter-ministerial coordination for the second phase of CPEC projects and wanted the finalization of social sector and economic development projects on priority basis. The Prime Minister also directed that the next meeting should be given a detailed briefing on hurdles in setting up targets for timely completion of second phase CPEC projects and measures taken by the concerned ministries to remove the hurdles.
The Prime Minister stated that China has always stood by Pakistan in difficult times by providing help and the CPEC projects reflect durable relations between Pakistan and China. He said that there is need to take benefit from Chinese experience in agriculture and poverty alleviation.
The meeting was given a briefing on progress of medium-term and long-term projects and was informed about the first phase project of energy, road network, rail networks, Gwadar Port as well as about the second phase projects of industrial cooperation, agriculture promotion, social sector and tourism. The first phase CPEC projects of energy and road infrastructure have been completed while work on Gwadar Port and airport is in progress.
The meeting was told that Orange Line project has been completed and consultations process on feasibility of Quetta Railway is in progress.
About the progress on industrial development, the meeting was told that groundbreaking of Allama Iqbal Special Economic Zone (SEZ) has recently been done by the Prime Minister and groundbreaking of Rashakai Special Economic Zone would be done next month. The meeting was further informed that bidding of Dabheji Economic Zone would start soon.
The meeting reviewed various proposals regarding CPEC social sector projects. The Prime Minister directed that CPEC consultation process and early completion of ongoing projects must be done on priority basis.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2020
CPEC-RELATED SHIPMENTS NOT AFFECTED CHINESE WORKFORCE FACES REASONABLE MOVEMENT CURB
January 31, 2020
ISLAMABAD: Chinese engineers and labour working on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects have been advised to extend their vacations till precautionary measures to limit the spread of coronavirus are in place.
This was revealed by senior officials of Ministry of Planning, Development and Special Initiatives while talking to Business Recorder here on Thursday. They said the matter was raised at a diplomatic level and in response the Chinese government has provided medical kits to help forestall the spread of this deadly virus.
China has been screening passengers to limit the spread of the coronavirus, however, the government of Pakistan has also developed standard operating procedures (SOPs). Thermo scanners have been provided to health staff at airports in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad to screen all passengers. Sources said that after the outbreak of the coronavirus in China, Pakistan has initiated screening at 19 entry points of those coming from China.
To a question, Foreign Office spokesperson Aisha Siddiqui, said the movement of Chinese officials working on the CPEC projects is temporarily suspended as many of them were already on holidays due to Chinese New Year celebrations, adding that the Chinese authorities are taking precautionary measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus. “The suspension is temporary and it is not affecting CPEC-related shipments,” she added.
Sources revealed that most of the engineers as well as labourers deployed at CPEC projects are Chinese. The movement of all those engineers and labourers who recently returned from China has been restricted as all are required to be screened till the situation improves.
Another official of the Ministry of Health said that they have advised the Chinese engineers and labourers currently in China to prolong their stay in their country.
Senior Customs officials told Business Recorder that the coronavirus spreads through human contact and not through shipment of goods, plant machineries and equipment. Therefore it is not necessary to do additional scanning of goods and machinery coming from China. Sources further said that the Khunjrab Pass (Pak-China) is already closed due to heavy snowfall and is expected to reopen by April.
Sajid Shah, the spokesperson for National Health, Regulation and Services Ministry, said that Pakistan has issued SOPs to manage the inflows of international passengers and started isolating those suspected of having contracted the disease and placing them in designated healthcare facilities.
“In view of the rapid spread of the coronavirus, human-to-human transmission and considering that Pakistan is China’s neighbour with potential risk of cross-border transmission of the coronavirus, the government of Pakistan is taking necessary measures in compliance with the International Health Regulations (IHR-2005) for prevention and preparedness for this public health event at points of entry. In this regard, advisories, guidelines, standard protocols were issued by the Ministry of Health,” he added.
The government has reinforced its facilities for screening at the ports of entry. “We are on high alert and have taken measures we needed to have taken as a responsible government as there are clear instructions from the prime minister in this regard,” he said, adding that an emergency operation cell at the federal health ministry is monitoring the situation round-the-clock.
Replying to a question, he did not rule out the delay in passengers’ arrival while saying screening is mandatory to avoid any outbreak of this virus in Pakistan.
NA EXTENDS CPEC ORDINANCE
SAQIB VIRK BY 2:00 / 31.01.2020
ISLAMABAD: The lower house of the parliament has extended for 120 days the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) authority and tax law ordinances, amid the opposition’s walkout.
When the government on Thursday introduced the CPEC Authority Ordinance, 2019 and Tax Laws (Second Amendment) Ordinance 2019 for an extension in the National Assembly, the opposition strongly protested.
Former prime minister and the PPP leader Raja Pervaiz Ashraf said a meeting of the National Assembly has been convened in haste to pass the ordinances. “We are not here to endorse ordinance [the purpose of the parliament is to make law,” he said.
Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan said extension of the ordinances was necessary because time was running out. “Amendments to the relevant bills will be made only in consultation with the opposition,” he assured.
Through the CPEC Authority Ordinance, promulgated by the president on October 8, 2019, a 10-member CPEC Authority has been established with the task to expedite projects related to the multi-billion dollar road and rail network that links China to Arabian Sea through Pakistan.
The authority will find new drivers of economic growth, and unlock the potential of interlinked production network and global value chains through regional and global connectivity.
The Tax Laws (Amendment) Ordinance, 2019 promulgated on October 6, 2-19 seeks to amend certain laws including the Customs Act, 1969 (Act IV of 1969) and the Sales Tax Act, 1990.
According to Article 89 of the Constitution, the president can promulgate an ordinance when the Senate or the National Assembly is not in session – in order to tackle some emergency situation.
The ordinance has the same force and effect as an act of the parliament but it stands repealed at expiration of 120 days from its promulgation if it is not given another extension of another 120 days prior to its expiry. An ordinance cannot be given a second extension.
The PTI government, which does not enjoy majority in the Senate – the upper house of the parliament – has introduced a number of presidential ordinances in its one-and-a-half-year tenure. The opposition criticizes this reliance on ordinances and accuses the government of undermining the parliament.
Taking the floor, MNA Mohsin Dawar – an independent lawmaker from former tribal areas – strongly criticized the federal government over arrest of Manzoor Pashteen, the head of the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM), and registration of cases against the protesters.
Pashteen was arrested and subsequently sent to jail on 14-day remand by a judicial magistrate in Peshawar on Monday. Police arrested Pashteen from Peshawar’s Shaheen Town on the basis of an FIR registered against him on Jan 18 in DI Khan on a slew of charges.
Earlier, MNA Imran Khattak spoke about Nowshera’s tragedy and demanded that perpetrator of child abuse should be hanged publicly. “Such people were stoned to death in he state of Madina.
NEWS COVERAGE PERIOD FROM JAN 20 TO JAN 26, 2020
KCR AMONG TOP THREE PROJECTS UNDER CPEC IN SINDH, FEDERAL PARLIAMENTARY BODY TOLD
The Newspaper’s Staff Reporter Updated January 21, 2020
KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah on Monday said that his government was keen to start a number of projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) with Karachi Circular Railway, Dhabeji Special Economic Zone and Keti Bandar Deep-Sea Port as a top priority of the provincial administration. He expressed the hope that the federal government would support him to launch these mega schemes.
He stated this while talking to a 22-member federal parliamentary committee on CPEC led by MNA Sher Ali Arbab which called on him at the CM House in line with his first of four meetings to evolve consensus for the CPEC-related projects to be launched in Sindh. The next two meetings of the committee would be held in Gwadar on Jan 21 and 22 and the final one is scheduled for Jan 23 in Pasni.
A statement issued by the CM House said the CM Shah told the committee about his government which shared 29 projects in areas of education, technical and vocational education and training, health, poverty alleviation, clean drinking water, agriculture livestock and fisheries.
Chairman of the CPEC parliamentary committee Mr Arbab said that from the shared projects of all provinces, 27 projects were identified as priority projects and of these, 17 schemes were identified as fast-track projects. Two of these schemes were in agriculture, two in education, one in health, and two in technical and vocational education and training.
The two fast-track agriculture projects include China-Pakistan Joint Agriculture Technology Laboratory and China-Pakistan Joint Agriculture Demonstration Stations, added the statement.
The chief minister said that for Sindh’s projects in agriculture, Chinese experts visited Sindh on Dec 15, 2019 to discuss agriculture schemes and to carry out field visits. The Sindh government was asked to give concurrence for the agriculture projects, which was given on Jan 10, Mr Shah said and added that progress on the remaining five fast-track projects of Sindh was waiting for visits of the Chinese.
CM Shah said that project preparation would commence after their visit. They include smart classrooms for education, overseas student scholarship programme, provision of medical equipment and supply for hospital(s), vocational and technical schools upgrades and vocational and technical teachers’ capacity building.
The chief minister said that overall there were three projects included in CPEC for Sindh. They were the KCR, Dhabeji Special Economic Zone and Keti Bandar Deep-Sea Port.
Talking about the KCR, Murad Ali Shah said that on a request of the Sindh government, the project was included in CPEC in December 2016; alongside Sindh government’s request for the provision of sovereign guarantee to the KCR, as was accorded to the Orange Line Lahore project, handing over the Karachi Urban Transport Company (KUTC) to the Sindh government, transfer of land along the KCR route alignment to the KUTC.
Published in Dawn, January 21st, 2020
BLACKLISTED FIRMS GOT CPEC PROJECT CONTRACTS, SAYS WELLS
Baqir Sajjad Syed Updated January 22, 2020
ISLAMABAD: Senior US diplomat Alice Wells on Tuesday renewed criticism of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), impliedly urging Islamabad to rethink its involvement with it.
Amb Wells’ speech at a think tank event, which was attended by members of academia and representatives of civil society, criticised the flagship project of China’s One Belt One Road Initiative.
She alleged that there was no transparency in CPEC projects, claiming Pakistan’s debt burden was growing due to the Chinese financing.
While her arguments looked like a repeat of the remarks she had earlier delivered at the Wilson Centre in Washington on Nov 21, 2019, the claims were renewed during her Islamabad trip a few days after Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi sought closer engagement and a robust trade and investment relationship between Pakistan and the US.
FM Qureshi had also sought help from the US to get the country off the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) grey list.
While reiterating the allegations against CPEC, Amb Wells said companies blacklisted by the World Bank had got contracts in the CPEC.
The US diplomat also questioned the immunity from prosecution for the newly formed CPEC Authority that served as the focal body working to identify new areas of cooperation and projects, besides facilitation, coordination and monitoring of ongoing projects.
About the debt problem, Amb Wells insisted that Chinese money was not assistance. By getting Chinese financing for the projects, Pakistan was buying expensive loans and as a buyer it needed to be aware of what it was doing as this would take a heavy toll on its already struggling economy, she contended.
The diplomat also touched on the cost escalation in railways ML-1 upgrade project. The link connects Karachi with Peshawar. She urged the government to be transparent about the mega project.
A Foreign Office statement, meanwhile, said US Acting Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs Alice Wells met Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood.
The agenda of the meeting largely comprised bilateral issues including the prospects of intensifying political engagement and expanding economic partnership. “It was emphasised that a strong trade and investment relationship was key to advancing the shared vision of the leadership of both countries for a long term, broad-based and enduring partnership,” the statement said.
While talking about human rights abuses by Indian troops in the occupied Kashmir and Delhi’s aggressive actions against Pakistan, including intensified LoC ceasefire violations, Mr Mahmood emphasised the need for international community to play its role for ending the rights violations and peaceful resolution of the dispute.
About peace and stability in Afghanistan, the foreign secretary reaffirmed Pakistan’s resolve to continue to support the peace process and pursue positive development in Pak-Afghan relations. Pakistan also remained committed to supporting the efforts for de-escalation of tensions and promoting the prospects of a diplomatic way forward on the differences and disputes in the Middle East, he said.
In a meeting with Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Nadeem Babar at the energy ministry office, Amb Wells said the US was ready to enhance cooperation with Pakistan in the energy sector especially in the renewable energy. Mr Babar proposed cooperation in tapping Pakistan’s Shale reserves, specialised training, investments in LNG infrastructure development, renewable energy and other avenues.
Published in Dawn, January 22nd, 2020
PAKISTAN-CHINA RELATIONSHIP, CPEC CHINA EXPRESSES OPPOSITION TO US ‘INTERFERENCE’
ALI HUSSAIN January 23, 2020
ISLAMABAD: The Chinese Embassy in Islamabad on Wednesday dismissed the ‘negative propaganda’ of the Untied States about China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and posed questions to the top US diplomat Alice Wells if she has brought any ‘aid, investment or trade for Pakistan’ during her visit.
The embassy also clarified about the Chinese loans for CPEC project, saying that the loans for the project are about US $ 5.8 billion, accounting for 5.3 percent of Pakistan’s total foreign debt, with a repayment period of 20-25 years and an interest rate of approximately 2 percent.
The statement of the Chinese Embassy comes in response to comments attributed to Alice Wells, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, who visited Pakistan from January 19-22 and made comments on the alleged lack of transparency in the CPEC projects and the growing Pakistan’s debt burden due to the Chinese financing. She also allegedly touched upon the cost escalation in railways ML-1 upgrade project, and said the Chinese companies joining CPEC are on World Bank’s blacklist.
“We noted that during her recent visit to Pakistan, Alice Wells, Acting Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs of the US State Department, made negative comments on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor again,” said a spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy.
He stated: “The comments hold nothing new, but the same cliché in her speech in November 2019, which has been repeatedly rejected by China and Pakistan.” However the US side still ignores the facts and is obsessed with the story it made for the CPEC, he added.
“We would be more than glad to see the US develop its relationship with Pakistan, but we strongly oppose the US interference into China-Pakistan relations and the CPEC. Although you can never wake up a person who is pretending to be asleep, we have to make our position clear and reject the negative propaganda by the US. We must not let the truth be distorted and the lies run wild,” the spokesperson added.
“We also want to advise the US when you accuse China-Pakistan relations, you should first look back what have you done to Pakistan, and think about how much contribution have you made for Pakistan. Did Wales bring any aid, investment or trade for Pakistan during her visit? If the US truly cares about the development and prosperity of Pakistan and this region, it should bring cash and funds, promote win-win cooperation on the basis of mutual respect, fairness, and justice, rather than acting as a world policeman, spreading rumors and provoking China-Pakistan relations,” the spokesperson added.
“China-Pakistan ties are rock-solid and unbreakable. China will continue to work with the Pakistani government and people to steadily advance the BRI and CPEC to promote regional peace and development,” he added.
In the CPEC projects, he insisted that China and Pakistan have been firmly committed to the principles of mutual consultation and cooperation for shared benefits. “We put Pakistani people’s interests first,” he said, adding that major progress has been achieved in the past five years, with 32 projects achieving early harvests.
“This has significantly improved local transportation infrastructure and power supply, created over 75,000 jobs directly and contributed one to two percent of the GDP growth in Pakistan. It shows that the CPEC is playing an important role in boosting Pakistan’s socioeconomic development and improving people’s livelihood. Whether the CPEC works, the answer should be given by the Pakistani people rather than the US,” the spokesperson added.
Under the CPEC, during its planning or implementation, he said that every project is equally discussed, carefully studied and jointly implemented by both China and Pakistan.
He said that the Chinese government always requests the Chinese companies to operate according to local laws and regulations. “All Chinese companies joining the CPEC enjoy international reputation. All projects strictly follow the market-oriented and internationally accepted business model, adopt state-of-the-art technology and strict environmental protection standards,” he maintained.
The spokesperson further stated that the entire process is open and transparent and is in line with international norm. “We keep in touch with the relative accountability agencies of Pakistan and it is agreed that the CPEC is clean. The US holds a stick of sanction all over the world to blacklist this and that country, but it is not for global economy, just ways to serve its own political purpose,” he insisted.
Regarding the so-called debt issue, the spokesperson added that according to statistics from the State Bank of Pakistan, the total foreign debt of Pakistan is US $110 billion. In fact, international financial institutions including the Paris Club and IMF are the largest creditors of Pakistan, he said.
“Loan for the CPEC is about US $5.8 billion, accounting for 5.3 percent of Pakistan’s total foreign debt, with a repayment period of 20-25 years and an interest rate of approximately 2 percent,” he said, adding that its repayments will start in 2021, with annual repayments of about US $300 million.
“It will never be a burden to Pakistan. Moreover, China has never forced other countries to pay debts, and will not make unreasonable demands on Pakistan. The US keeps fabricating the so-called debt story, their mathematics is bad, and their intention is worse,” he further stated.
As to the cost of the ML-1 project, he added that it has been clarified many times and the initial design of the project was jointly accomplished by the China Railway No 2 Bureau, National Engineering Services Pakistan Limited (NESPAK), and Pakistan Railway Advisory & Consultancy Services Ltd (PRACS).
He said that the project was launched in 2016, and the initial design was submitted in May 2017. In April 2019, it has successfully passed the initial design review, organized by Pakistan Railways (PR), of the complex including Mott McDonald Pakistan (MMP), Canarail and the Crimson, he said. As the project has not yet been approved, he added, the amounts of the project will be adjusted according to the actual condition and the needs of Pakistan. “After finalizing the design of the project, we would initiate bidding in accordance with international practice,” he said, adding that this is a completely normal business practice.
CPEC INITIATIVE PAKISTAN’S SOVEREIGN RIGHT, US TOLD
Khaleeq Kiani January 24, 2020
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has told the United States that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) initiative or selection of any other economic partner from around the world is its sovereign right.
The ministries of planning and foreign affairs on Thursday issued guarded reactions to reported comments by US diplomat Ambassador Alice Wells at a think tank in Islamabad earlier this week about CPEC pitfalls to Pakistan’s economy like debt burden.
On Wednesday, the Chinese Embassy had warned the US against meddling in Pakistan-China relationship and CPEC.
“Pakistan being a sovereign state exercises the right to choose economic partners from around the globe on a mutually beneficial basis,” said the planning and development ministry in a rejoinder. It asserted that the CPEC project was “a well thought out initiative involving mega development projects for the economic and social development of Pakistan”.
Planning, foreign ministries issue guarded reactions to comments by Alice Wells
The ministry said the projects completed so far in Phase-1 had already brought relief and started yielding dividends and tangible socio-economic benefits. Also, it added, the CPEC projects would accelerate the pace of development, boosting economic growth and ensuring ultimate prosperity for the people of Pakistan.
The ministry said that all CPEC-related projects were being pursued as per laws and regulations of Pakistan and through an institutional mechanism wherein transparency was a priority consideration. Necessary due diligence with all financial implications is also being undertaken before finalisation of any project. “Pakistan’s debt sustainability strategy has an endorsement of international financial institutions,” it added.
Separately, responding to a volley of questions, Foreign Office spokesperson Aisha Farooqui also defended the CPEC and strong Pakistan-China relations. She said Pakistan and China were “all-weather strategic cooperative partners” and Islamabad had already underscored that the CPEC was a transformational project.
She said the expeditious completion of the corridor projects was the number one priority of the government and the CPEC Authority had been recently established to ensure and oversee completion of the projects across the country.
Since the launch of the CPEC, 12 power projects in the energy sector have either been completed or are under construction with a total capacity of 7,240MW and an investment of $12.4 billion. Another nine projects are at an early stage with total capacity of 6,390MW, Ms Farooqui said, adding that energy projects under the CPEC were contributing over 14pc of total energy supply in Pakistan, serving over 33 million people on a per capita power use basis.
In addition, these projects have paid about $250 million in taxes during the construction period and created over 10,000 jobs. There are a number of projects that are financed through Chinese grants and concessional loans.
“To claim that CPEC is always in the form of loans or other forms of financing, often non-concessional with sovereign guarantees, is not based on facts,” the FO spokesperson said, adding that the total CPEC debt was about $4.9bn which was not even 10pc of Pakistan’s total debt.
She said the CPEC, a long-term project negotiated through multi-tiered processes, had helped address development gaps in energy, infrastructure, industrialisation and job creation in Pakistan.
Ms Farooqui emphasised that the CPEC should be perceived in terms of its enormous economic benefits for the people of Pakistan and its socio-economic development. “We believe it is also beneficial in the context of both regional connectivity and prosperity,” she said, adding that all countries were welcome to invest in special economic zones under the CPEC.
Published in Dawn, January 24th, 2020
IMRAN REJECTS CPEC’S CRITICISM AS ‘NONSENSE’
Anwar Iqbal January 24, 2020
WASHINGTON: Prime Minister Imran Khan has rejected the criticism of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as ‘nonsense,” insisting that the project “is really helping” the country.
In an interview to a US news channel CNBC, shown on Wednesday night, Mr Khan also urged US President Donald Trump and the United Nations to mediate between Pakistan and India over Kashmir.
“When the Chinese came to help us with this Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and CPEC, we were really at the rock bottom,” said the prime minister when the interviewer, Hadley Gamble, asked if the project was a debt-trap for Pakistan.
“So, we are really grateful to the Chinese that they came and rescued us,” he added.
“They came and pumped in, not just they gave us loans – and the loans, by the way are barely five or six percent of the total portfolio,” said Mr Khan, rejecting the suggestion that the CPEC was a debt-trap. “This is nonsense.”
Terms Kashmir far more serious a problem than people realise
The Chinese, he said, actually helped Pakistan with investment and because of them the country now “has an opportunity to attract foreign investment”.
The prime minister explained that his government was now creating special economic zones to attract investment. “We just opened two and we are opening more where we are giving special concessions to industries,” he said.
Mr Khan said the CPEC was “beyond BRI as China was also helping Pakistan in technology transfer. They are especially helping us in agriculture because Chinese technology (can boost) development (in this sector) much better than Pakistan’s as “our productivity is very low”.
The CPEC, he said, was also teaching Pakistanis the skills they needed to benefit from the CPEC projects. “They are building skill centers in Pakistan. So, they are helping us and we are grateful,” the prime minister said.
Earlier this week, senior US diplomat Alice Wells once again urged Pakistan to rethink its wholeheartedly embrace of China’s economic initiative. Speaking at a think-tank in Islamabad, she alleged that there was no transparency in the CPEC projects, and warned that the country’s debt burden was growing due to the Chinese financing.
Both Chinese and Pakistani officials have rejected the US criticism as misleading but the prime minister’s remarks further cemented the impression that Islamabad remains committed to the CPEC.
The prime minister spoke with CNBC in Davos, Switzerland, where he was attending the annual summit conference of the World Economic Forum.
When the interviewer asked how useful could the US president be in settling the Kashmir dispute, Mr Khan said: “I can’t say what would be the outcome but for me it is important to try my best because Kashmir is a far more serious problem than people realise.”
“This is serious because there are two nuclear-armed countries,” the prime minister said. “That’s why I want President Trump, head of the most powerful country in the world — he should intervene right now. United Nations, or President Trump through the UN at least.”
Mr Khan explained that the possibility of an India-Pakistan conflict had increased because “India has been taken over by an extremist ideology, which is called Hindutva or the RSS.”
The prime minister said that the founding fathers of RSS were “inspired by the Nazis” and the Nazi concept of “racial purity” and “believed in ethnic cleansing, of Muslims.”
Mr Khan said that the ideology which was responsible for the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi and the group that was declared a terrorist organisation three times by previous Indian governments had now taken over India.
Responding to another question, he said the people of Kashmir, through a referendum could decide whichever country they wanted to join.
“Now, that disputed territory has been annexed by India, and, they are trying to change the demography of (the) people of Kashmir, which according to the fourth Geneva Convention is a war crime,” he added.
The prime minister also expressed concern about ongoing protests in India over a controversial citizenship bill passed last December that many say is set to disproportionately affect Muslims.
Published in Dawn, January 24th, 2020
By Editorial Published: January 25, 2020
Pakistan and China have rejected American claims that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is only being financed through loans and other non-concessional financing. Various ministries have been on a defensive charge to counter claims made by US diplomat Alice Wells a few days back. The Foreign Office spokesperson claimed that CPEC debt only amounts to “$4.9 billion, which is not even 10 per cent of the country’s total debt”. The spokesperson said CPEC has helped Pakistan address development gaps in various areas and gave the specific example of power plants with a total capacity of 7,000 MW. She also claimed that CPEC has enhanced regional connectivity and prosperity by providing enormous economic benefits for the people of Pakistan, along with socioeconomic development. The Planning Ministry separately claimed that the projects completed so far “have already brought relief and started yielding dividends and tangible socioeconomic benefits”. It said that CPEC projects will accelerate development and economic growth.
But there was also an oddly defensive line about “Pakistan being a sovereign state that exercises the right to choose economic partners…on a mutually beneficial basis.” This is common knowledge in all trade deals, which makes it a strange point to stress on. Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi also stressed that when it comes to the CPEC, Pakistan “will continue to do what is beneficial to us”.
China, meanwhile, called the US statement “negative propaganda” and said that it strongly opposed US interference in China-Pakistan relations and CPEC. The Chinese Embassy claimed that Beijing always puts the interests of Pakistan’s people first in CPEC projects. The embassy statement also listed a series of CPEC-related achievements, including that CPEC projects have significantly improved Pakistan’s transportation infrastructure and power supply while creating over 75,000 jobs.
There were also direct attacks on US foreign policy in the statement. Criticism was focused on America’s use of sanctions for “blacklisting this and that country”, in reference to the Wells’ claim that blacklisted companies were working on CPEC-related projects. The embassy claimed US blacklisting had less to do with protecting the global economy, and more with its own political goals.
NEWS COVERAGE PERIOD FROM JAN 13 TO JAN 19, 2020
UMAR SAYS GOVERNMENT DETERMINED TO ESTABLISH FOUR SEZS IN 2020
By NAVEED BUTT on January 17, 2020
Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar has said that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government is determined to establish four economic zones in all provinces within this year.
He said that the SEZs would enable setting up of joint ventures in manufacturing which would integrate the enterprises from both sides and it is important for Pakistani manufacturing industries to become part of the global value chain by partnering with the Chinese companies.
The minister expressed these views in a meeting with a delegation of Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI), which led by Saboor Malik called on him here on Thursday. The business delegation inquired about their role in SEZs and business relationship between Chinese and Pakistani investors.
While talking to the delegation, the minister said that the CPEC Business Forum is established to create an interface between the government and business community and take forward the industrial cooperation between Pakistan and China. He said that representation from the private sector will accelerate the pace of industrialization under the umbrella of the mega project.
He said that the focus is to boost Pakistan’s industrial capacity through joint ventures in priority areas, relocation of labor-intensive export-led industry, SME’s collaboration and enhancement of vocational training capacity.
In the first phase of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), he said, the infrastructure and energy projects are either completed or near completion. The second phase is related to agriculture and other sectors. Under the CPEC, the ML-1 Railway project will begin in the current financial year. The private sector can participate in CPEC projects under a public-private partnership. Provinces have been instructed to expedite development projects.
The minister asked the delegation of Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industry to come up with a 3-year roadmap for industrialization and export sector strategy by March 2020.
According to the sources, Pakistan and China have agreed to develop nine special economic zones (SEZs) across the country and decided to complete three SEZs on priority basis including Allama Iqbal Industrial City, Faisalabad, and two others located in Rashakai in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Dhabeji in Sindh.
They said that Rashakai Economic Zone, M-1, Nowshera, and China Special Economic Zone Dhabeji are also expected to open in April 2020.
The Board of Investment (BoI) is also going to amend Special Economic Zone Act 2012 to facilitate industrial zones under the CPEC, they added.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2020
YASMIN VOWS TO SUPPORT HEALTH FACILITIES FOR CPEC
From the Newspaper January 18, 2020
LAHORE: Punjab Health Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid vowed to fully support health facilities and services of the Pakistan-China Economic Corridor (CPEC).
The minister said this while meeting CPEC Authority Chairman retired Lt Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa at her office here on Friday.
A handout stated that Bajwa proposed a mother and child hospital as well as nursing college be developed alongside the CPEC in Punjab.
The minister said the department will work closely with the CPEC Authority, especially on the projects in cities around the CPEC routes in Punjab. She nominated Primary and Secondary Healthcare Special Secretary Ajmal Bhatti as the focal person for coordination with the CPEC Authority.
“Punjab is giving special emphasis to the mother and child health facilities. We have aligned our projects with the UN Sustainable Development Goals and we are developing state-of-the-art mother and child hospitals in Attock, Layyah, Mianwali, Bahawalnagar and Rajanpur. We plan to develop nursing colleges with these hospitals. South Punjab is under special focus as development indicators require serious work in these districts,” Dr Rashid said.
Published in Dawn, January 18th, 2020
NEWS COVERAGE PERIOD FROM JAN 06 TO JAN 12
CPEC MOVING INTO HIGH GEAR
Nasir Jamal January 06, 2020
THE inauguration of the 300-megawatt Gwadar coal-fired power plant in November was the first major sign in a long time, signifying that the multibillion-dollar China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) initiative was back on line.
The plant’s launch was preceded by the 9th Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) meeting that had signalled renewed eagerness of both Beijing and Islamabad to reboot the project, which had otherwise been on a slowdown since early 2017.
The formation of the controversial CPEC Authority and the appointment of a retired general as its head, a decision some allege has effectively shifted the CPEC’s stewardship from civilians to the military, are also being seen in the same context. There is also a general expectation that the bilateral cooperation around the corridor initiative is going to get a new push in 2020, as it enters the second phase of its development and its focus shifts to the country’s troubled areas, especially in Balochistan.
The second phase focuses on industrialisation, socio-economic development, agriculture modernisation and tourism
With the military now in full control of the corridor initiative, Beijing’s influence on how the Imran Khan government, which didn’t appear much bullish on the project in the beginning, handles CPEC schemes in the future has also grown.
The two sides have also agreed to start or escalate work on different new or stalled transport and energy schemes, including the $9.2 billion railway line (ML-I) to upgrade the track from Peshawar to Karachi, the construction of highways for completing eastern and western corridor routes, securing borders with Afghanistan and Iran to protect CPEC projects, etc.
Both sides used the last JCC to broaden the scope of future collaboration around CPEC to industrial and agricultural development, copper/gold mining, oil and gas exploration, affordable housing, social sector, and poverty alleviation, moving away from the large energy and transport infrastructure schemes undertaken in the first phase.
Officials related to CPEC projects hope that the government would provide a new impetus to the project in 2020. Asad Umar, who was given charge of the planning and development ministry on Chinese insistence on his return to the cabinet, couldn’t be reached for comment. However, he recently said that the benefits of CPEC would start to trickle down to productive sectors of the economy, including industry and agriculture in 2020.
The second phase of the CPEC development would build on the success of the early harvest projects that had helped remove energy and road bottlenecks and focus towards generating greater economic activity and job creation, Mr Umar said. “The second phase focuses on industrialisation, socio-economic development, agriculture modernisation, and tourism promotion. Central to the second phase is the development of three special economic zones (SEZs) — Rashakai, Allama Iqbal Industrial City and Dhabeji — on a priority basis to attract large foreign direct investment and reverse the tide of deindustrialisation,” he added.
Hasan Daud Butt, the previous CPEC project director, expects the focus to shift towards upgrading the Peshawar-Karachi railway track, SEZs, fibre-optic connectivity and the development of Gwadar city in 2020, and hopes that the newly formed CPEC Authority (read military) is going to play a crucial role in the second phase of development.
But there are some who are not so optimistic, insisting that a combination of Pakistan’s ongoing economic and financial troubles and an adverse American narrative about the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), of which CPEC is an important part, may likely hamper a faster movement on the corridor project in the near term.
“Growing American opposition to the BRI in the wake of ongoing tensions with China and Pakistan’s financial issues could frustrate the plans to put CPEC on a fast track in 2020,” said an Islamabad-based development consultant, who refused to give his name because of personal reasons.
In support of his argument, he pointed out that the IMF’s demand for greater scrutiny of the Chinese investments and loans along with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s warning in August 2018 that any “potential IMF bailout for Pakistan should not provide funds to pay off Chinese lenders” were mainly responsible for the pause in the work on CPEC.
Others don’t buy this argument. “CPEC has pretty much been on a slowdown since late 2017, but it has been internal and bilateral economic and political dynamics that have been decisive rather than outside pressures,” Andrew Small, the author of The China-Pakistan Axis: Asia’s New Geopolitics, told Dawn.
“The US stance is significant largely in the context of the battle for international opinion over BRI. Unlike during the previous phase, when the US was fairly neutrally or even positively disposed towards CPEC, there is now greater interest in pointing out flaws and failings in BRI’s flagship initiative,” he said in reference to the remarks made last month by senior US diplomat Alice Wells.
But he does not expect the American stance to have much of an impact on the multibillion-dollar project. “CPEC’s fate will continue to be far more dependent on Pakistani and Chinese political choices and the economic dynamics in Pakistan; there will just be additional scrutiny and criticism of the whole thing coming from the US side,” he said.
Published in Dawn, The Business and Finance Weekly, January 6th, 2020
SPECIAL ECONOMIC ZONES TO BE BUILT IN SECOND PHASE OF CPEC
By APP Published: January 6, 2020
BEIJING: Pakistani Ambassador to China Naghmana Alamgir Hashmi said on Saturday the second phase of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a flagship project of Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), has started with the establishment of special economic zones in various parts of the country.
Giving an interview to China Economic Net, Hashmi said, “Special economic zones in various parts of the country will be established in the second phase of CPEC.”
The ambassador emphasised importance of agriculture sector and its potential.
“Investment in agriculture sector of both the countries by establishing special economic zones will boost cooperation in Chinese and Pakistani agriculture sectors,” said the ambassador.
She added that operations of China-Pakistan Free Trade Agreement would decrease prices as import duty would not apply to products.
“The establishment of special economic zones, rise in number of agreements and cooperation in the agriculture sector — a priority of President Xi and Prime Minister Imran Khan — will have potential of investment, growth and re-export of value added products to China,” said the envoy.
Talking about Pakistani products having export potential to China, Hashmi said that the third Mango Festival was held in Pakistan Embassy in Beijing to spread knowledge of Pakistani mangoes to consumers.
The envoy said, “Mango is Pakistan’s leading export and we expect that the exported product will be sold in supermarkets across China.”
Hashmi also talked about prices of mangoes exported to China. She said that prices of Pakistani mango in China were higher because a series of tariffs were added to the product while exporting. Moreover, mangoes were also treated with hot water, steam sterilisation and other technology hiking price of the product.
She lamented that unavailability of the technologies in Pakistan causing increase in mango prices.
The ambassador presented a solution to reduce price of Pakistani agricultural products in China.
“Joint venture is the first step to reduce the price which can be achieved through introduction of technology and working with farmers and exporters to set reasonable price in order to meet China’s requirements for imported fruits and vegetables,” said Hashmi.
Secondly, the diplomat believed that many products could be transported by road to China through establishment of cold chain system — an initiative of CPEC. Up till now, the short shelf life products, like mango fisheries and other agricultural products, were exported by air with increased prices. She believed that Chinese investor could invest in the business of exporting products from Pakistan.
Stressing on the importance of business, the envoy said, “The business will be beneficial for importers and exporters in Pakistan with introduction of high-quality agricultural products to China at reasonable prices.”
Ambassador Hashmi said that some traditional exports of Pakistan would be famous in China after implementation of FTA Phase-II through zero-tariff treatment given to 313 types of Pakistani products.
“Pakistan’s most famous Basmati rice is not popular in China though Islamabad exports many varieties of rice to Beijing,” she added.
She emphasised that Pakistan would be able to export IRRI-6 — a small grain of glutinous rice — close to a type of Chinese rice.
Briefing on the amount of sugar, a new item, exported to China, the envoy said, “Pakistani sugar was a new product launched in Chinese markets. If the attempt is successful, more sugar will be imported to China in the next two years.”
The ambassador added that Pakistan produced huge amount of cotton which could be exported to China as Beijing has vast number of textile industries.
Talking about Pakistani minerals and gems having great potential in China, Hashmi said, “Balochistan is the only province producing Onyx in the world and Chinese have specific inclination towards the stone.”
She added that gem was another area where Chinese joint venture could help building Pakistani industries especially exports of gold and copper to China.
Hashmi added that Pakistan has abundant gems in northern areas but it lacks advanced technology to polish gems. However, Chinese could help the country to make beautiful jewelry products.
“Chinese technicians, stone importers and manufacturers could work with Pakistan Enterprises to establish joint ventures,” she added.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 6th, 2020.
MAHMOOD KHAN WANTS TO EXPEDITE WORK ON CPEC CITY
By Our Correspondent Published: January 7, 2020
PESHAWAR: With the second phase of the China-Pakistan free trade pact going live at the turn of the year, the provincial government has called for expediting work on the CPEC City being built in Nowshera.
This was directed by Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Chief Minister Mahmood Khan on Monday as he chaired a review meeting on the Naya Pakistan Housing Programme, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) City in Nowshera and the Peshawar Model Town.
CM Mahmood said that provision of residential plots to the deserving people in the province under the Naya Pakistan Housing Scheme was a top priority for the government. For this purpose, he said that a comprehensive plan was implemented for the housing project.
On the CPEC City, he was briefed that around 40,000 Kanal of land has been acquired for the project while they are in the process of acquiring another 40,000 kanals of land.
Officials said that they are working to resolve the reservations of locals soon after a meeting with the relevant authorities.
The chief minister directed to complete the CPEC City project on a priority basis and ordered to convene another meeting on it.
He further directed to review the housing plan of the federal government, assuring that the provincial government will facilitate in planning housing schemes in the province.
Mahmood also directed to design a comprehensive action plan to ensure that housing schemes are initiated in Hangu and the Peshawar Model Town. The meeting was told that a summary for the Surizai Housing Scheme has already been approved and a PDWP document is expected to be prepared this month.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 7th, 2020.
MINISTER INFORMS NA ABOUT CPEC PROJECTS
By NAVEED BUTT on January 10, 2020
Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar has said that total cost of CPEC projects including ML-1 Railway project is approximately $ 50 billion out of which 13 projects at estimated cost of $ 11 billion are complete, 13 projects at cost of $ 18 billion are under implementation, whereas $ 21 billion projects are in pipeline.
In a written reply to questions of the members of the National Assembly during the question hour session, the minister said that the second memorandum of understanding (MoU) with China is about to establish a joint working group under CPEC for promotion and implementation of the Socio-Economic Development Project through Chinese government grants and interest-free loans under CPEC and following six sectors are identified for cooperation; (i) agriculture, (ii) education, (iii) medicine, (iv) poverty alleviation, (v) water supply, and (vi) vocational training.
Responding to another question about amnesty schemes, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan told the House that the previous Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government had collected Rs 123 billion against 76,958 persons who had availed the scheme while Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government has collected Rs 62 billion against 124,587 persons.
Parliamentary Secretary for Commerce Aliya Hamza Malik told the House that the country’s exports enhanced by 4.79 percent during the first five months of current fiscal year. She said the trade deficit stands reduced by 35 percent which is a big success.
In a written reply to a question, the minister for finance and revenue acknowledged rising inflation and told the House that millions of rupees were spent on maintenance of official vehicles.
He said that Rs 190.56 million were spent by Finance Ministry and its subsidiaries on maintenance of 1,909 vehicles in last five years. He said that Rs 46.8 million were spent on 31 vehicles of Finance Ministry, Rs 46.4 million on 198 vehicles of Auditor General, Rs 9.2 million were spent on 54 vehicles of Zarai Taraqiati Bank, Rs 49.4 million on 58 vehicles of National Bank and Rs 1.77 billion were spent on 1,490 vehicles of Federal Board of Revenue.
Responding to a calling attention notice moved by Ali Nawaz Awan, Minister for Power Umer Ayub told the House that the tariff structure is being revised of the electricity connections for tube wells meant for community based supply schemes.
He said talks are continuing with the NEPRA in this regard and the revised structure will bring down the power tariff for these tube wells.
Umer Ayub said Pakistan is a peace-loving country and Prime Minister Imran Khan has promoted the positive and soft image of Pakistan by opening the Kartarpur Corridor. He said the Sikh community across the world is recognizing and acknowledging this very positive step of Pakistan. He said the world on the other hand is criticizing discriminatory steps of Indian government against minorities and demanding withdrawal of the Indian Citizenship Act.
Speaking on the floor of the National Assembly, Minister for Communications Murad Saeed said the benefits of economic stability achieved by the country in the year 2019 will now be transferred to the masses.
He pointed out that the government has launched Sehat Insaf Card scheme under which the card holders can get medical treatment up to seven hundred and twenty thousand rupees at the public and private hospitals.
He said the process to distribute 5.7 million Sehat Insaf cards has been started, adding 53,480 people will be provided with these cards in the federal capital by March this year.
The minister said the government has now launched a multibillion rupees relief package through Utility Stores Corporation for provision of essential commodities to the people at reduced rates.
PPP MNA Abdul Qadir Patel said that inflation is at the highest peak in the history of Pakistan and the government should know the ground realities. He said that the prices of medicines have been increased from 300 percent to 400 percent. He said that poor people, small farmers and fisherman are in miserable condition due to price hike in the country. He claimed that the PTI government is eliminating middle class which is backbone of the country.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2020
WORK ON CPEC PROJECTS TO BE ACCELERATED
By APP Published: January 11, 2020
ISLAMABAD: The pace at which projects under the CPEC are being implemented would be accelerated in the coming weeks and months, said Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar.
Talking to Chinese Ambassador Yao Jing on matters relating to CPEC and bilateral economic cooperation on Friday, the minister expressed his satisfaction at the progress on various projects under CPEC.
He emphasised that the establishment and operationalisation of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in Pakistan was currently the government’s top priority as SEZs would lead to joint-venture agreements in manufacturing, which would integrate enterprises from both sides.
The minister stressed the need for Pakistani manufacturing industries to be included in the global value chain by partnering with Chinese companies.
The ambassador assured the minister that the Chinese government was keen to promote such relationships between businesses and manufacturing industries of both the countries. The minister emphasised that the huge potential in the sector could be explored by modernising its various sub-sectors.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 11th, 2020.
NEWS COVERAGE PERIOD FROM DEC 30 TO JAN 05,2020
KP CM ORDERS IMMEDIATE HIRING OF CONSULTANTS FOR CPEC PROJECTS
By RECORDER REPORT on December 31, 2019
KP Chief Minister Mahmood Khan has directed for immediate hiring of consultants for initiation of work on Solarization of 800 water supply schemes to be carried out under China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
The total estimated cost of the project is Rs6.84 billion which will ensure saving of approximately Rs800 million annually in bills and Rs90 million in Operation and Maintenance costs along with benefiting 2.4 million people.
He was presiding over a meeting regarding CPEC projects of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa at CM Secretariat Peshawar. Advisor to the Chief Minister for Energy and Power Hamayatullah Khan, Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister, Shahab Ali Shah, Administrative Secretaries of the concerned departments and other senior officials attended the meeting.
The Chief Minister stated that ultimate goal of the initiative is to improve the quality of life and health of people through provision of clean drinking water within affordable costs on sustainable basis adding that Public Health Engineering department of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had already initiated solarization projects with successful results under which 600 schemes have been solarized so far.
Total saving from these schemes in terms of electricity bills is Rs600 million per annum along with saving of 18 Mega Watt electricity in the national grid. The Chief Minister further directed to accelerate progress on 260 MW Jamshil Torren More Project Chitral, 350 Mega Watt Torren More Kare Project Chitral, project regarding off-grid solutions for merged districts, Swat Motorway Phase II and other proposed projects in CPEC.
The meeting was informed that the inclusion of 260 MW Jamshil Torren More Project Chitral and 350 Mega Watt Torren More Kare Project Chitral in CPEC has been agreed upon in principal during the previous meeting of the Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) of CPEC in which it was agreed that the projects would be evaluated by panel of experts representing both sides.
The meeting was informed that Swat Motorway Phase II project has already been approved by PSDP while its inclusion in CPEC was also principally agreed in the previous JCC meeting. Furthermore, the technical survey of Peshawar to DI Khan Motorway project is also being carried out.
The Chief Minister was informed that the project regarding solariation of 800 existing water supply schemes has been included under CPEC Socio-Economic grant. Revised PC-1 at estimated cost of Rs695.406 million for local component as non-ADP scheme has also been approved while hiring of consultants for the project is underway.
The Chief Minister emphasised the need to expedite the progress on the project stating that provision of clean drinking water to people of the province is the priority of incumbent government whereas the initiatives will not only save billions of rupees, but will provide easy access to clean drinking water.
The Chief Minister also called for a separate presentation on the new and ongoing mega schemes being initiated by Public Health Engineering Department saying that the government was spending considerable resources for providing clean drinking water to the people of the province.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2019
K-P WANTS WATER PROJECTS UNDER CPEC
By Our Correspondent Published: December 31, 2019
PESHAWAR: Even as it works on developing two routes for the multi-billion dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor along with special economic zones and tourist spots along them, the provincial government on Monday hinted at including water supply projects in the corridor as well.
This was directed by the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Chief Minister Mehmood Khan on Monday while presiding over a meeting on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects in the province at the CM Secretariat in Peshawar.
During the meeting, Mahmood was briefed about the inclusion in CPEC of the 260 megawatts (MW) Jamshil Torren More and the 350 MW Torren More Kare projects in Chitral. Their inclusion has been agreed on in principal during the last meeting of the CPEC Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC).
The projects will be included in the corridor after it is evaluated by a panel of experts and representatives from both sides.
Another project which has been provisionally included in CPEC is the second phase of the Swat Motorway project. The project has already been approved by the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP). Furthermore, the technical survey of Peshawar-Dera Ismail Khan Motorway project is also being carried out.
Mahmood was further briefed that a project for solarising some 800 existing water supply schemes has been included under CPEC’s Socio-Economic grant. For this purpose, a revised PC-I worth Rs695.406 million, non-ADP, had been approved.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 31st, 2019.
GOVT DEFENDS ESTABLISHMENT OF CPEC AUTHORITY
Jamal Shahid Updated January 01, 2020
ISLAMABAD: The government has defended the necessity of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Authority which enhanced scope after inclusion of socio-economic, agriculture and industrial development, and third party participation.
The National Assembly Standing Committee on Planning and Development met here on Tuesday to discuss the need for the government’s bill regarding the CPEC Authority, which was set up through a presidential ordinance on Oct 5.
Opposition parties, including the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), have rejected the government’s act of setting up the CPEC Authority through the presidential ordinance.
The PML-N termed it an “illegal” move in violation of recommendations of the parliamentary committee concerned. PML-N secretary general Ahsan Iqbal had said the establishment of the authority through the presidential ordinance was a “backdoor legislation” and his party would not accept it.
NA panel told rules for post of authority’s chairman have been formulated
Additional Planning Secretary Waqarul Hassan informed the NA committee about the requirement to strengthen institutional structure of the authority for future policy directions and utilisation of all available resources.
According to him, a retired lieutenant general had been appointed chairman of the CPEC Authority and rules for the position have been formulated. “Appointment rules for the post of chief executive officer, who will be from the Civil Service, executive directors and members [of CPEC Authority] are in process of formulation. These officials will be appointed by the prime minister,” he added.
Mr Hassan said the CPEC Authority would serve as an interface with the Chinese side for identifying new areas of cooperation and projects, besides facilitation, coordination and monitoring of CPEC-related activities. Apart from inter-provincial and inter-ministerial coordination, media management and narrative building, the authority would conduct sector-wise research for informed decision-making and long-term planning, he explained.
The committee considered recommendations for the authority’s legislation by the National Assembly. It said transfer of technology should be given priority while making any agreement with China or other countries.
The committee was informed that about 30,000 Pakistani students were studying in China in different disciplines. The committee recommended that the Chinese government might be approached to establish universities in Pakistan as it would save foreign exchange and enhance education capacity.
While MNA Abdul Shakoor suggested that the chairman of the CPEC Authority should be someone who could be held accountable, MNA Agha Rafiullah proposed removal of Section 12 from the Ordinance.
Section 12 reads: “Except as expressly provided in the this Ordinance, no suit prosecution or other legal proceedings shall lie against the Authority, the chairperson, CEO, Executive Director, any Member, officer, members of staff, other employee, expert, consultant or adviser of the Authority in respect of anything done or intended to be done in good faith under this Ordinance, the rules or regulations.”
Government officials explained that Section 12 of the Ordinance protected the staff of the authority to carry out their duties without hindrances.
Published in Dawn, January 1st, 2020
NA PANEL APPROVES CPEC AUTHORITY BILL
By NAVEED BUTT on January 1, 2020
The National Assembly Standing Committee on Planning, Development and Reform has approved the “China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Authority (CPEC) Bill, 2019.”
The committee met with Junaid Akbar in the chair here at Parliament House on Tuesday. The committee discussed the ‘China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Authority (CPEC) Bill, 2019,’ Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Sustainable Development Achievement Program (SAP).
Some members of the committee also raised objections on section 4 of the bill, which gives immunity to chairman CPEC Authority, chief executive officer, executive director and any member of the authority. They said that no body could approach the court if anything is done wrong.
Committee members Syed Agha Rafiullah, Saleh Muhammad and others also said that the immunity to chairperson CPEC Authority should not be given and there should be mechanism for accountability and check and balance.
Additional Secretary Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform Syed Waqar-ul-Hassan, who was giving briefing to the Committee on the bill, said that this immunity is being given in good faith. He said this immunity would provide shield for smooth functioning of the Authority.
According to Section-IV of the bill, “Immunity: – Except as expressly provided in this bill, no suit prosecution or other legal proceedings shall lie against the Authority, the Chairperson, Chief Executive Officer, Executive Director, any Member, officer, member of staff, other employees, expert, consultant or advisor of the Authority in respect of anything done or intended to be done in good faith under this law, the rules or the regulations.”
When Committee Chairman Junaid Akbar sought opinion from Law Ministry, the official of the ministry told the committee that the court could be approached against the Authority.
After discussion, the committee approved the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Authority (CPEC) Bill, 2019.
While briefing the committee, the secretary planning said that CPEC Authority is necessary as there are some long-term projects under CPEC and even Saudi Arabia, Russia, Turkey and Gulf countries are interested to make investments. He said that Special Economic Zones (SEZs) are also being established under CPEC which would improve the economy of Pakistan. He said that work has been started on utility infrastructures (electricity, gas, water etc.) for industrial zones.
He said that ML-I Railway Project of estimated cost of $ 9 billion is also being launched which will not only improve the infrastructure of the railway but trains would also be run through electricity.
He said that China has given $ 1 billion grant for social sector projects. He said that projects relating to health, education, vocational training and research would be started. He said that some projects would be completed in one year and other would be completed in three years.
The committee discussed that transfer of technology may be kept on priority while making any agreement with China or other countries. It was discussed that almost 30,000 Pakistani students are studying in China in different disciplines. The committee recommended that the government of China may be approached to build universities in Pakistan, as it will save foreign exchange and will increase education capacity in Pakistan.
The secretary planning, development and special initiatives briefed about the implementation on recommendations of the committee. The project director Dasu Hydropower submitted progress report to the committee as sought by the committee in last meeting. The committee directed to share the progress of the project with the committee on monthly basis.
The chief executive Neelum-Jhelum Power Project informed that as per decision of ECC of the Cabinet, Neelum-Jhelum surcharge will be rescinded at the achievement of commercial operation date of whole project. He further informed that the Central Power Purchasing Agency Guarantee Limited (CPPA-G) has approved to raise the invoice for the energy supplied to grid through Wapda. The committee recommended that Wapda should build and run the hospitals and schools, and provide roads and other necessities to victims of Dasu Dam.
Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Sustainable Development Achievement Program (SAP) was discussed in the meeting. The committee recommended that balanced development may be ensured throughout Pakistan especially in backwards/rural areas. The committee also desired to transfer task relating to MDGs, SDGs or SAP from Cabinet Division to the Ministry of Planning, Development and Special Initiatives.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2019
27 PROJECTS IDENTIFIED FOR JOINT COOPERATION UNDER CPEC
By TANVEER AHMED on January 2, 2020
As many as 27 projects have been identified for joint cooperation in socio-economic component of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
Out of these 27 projects, 17 are fast track projects and ten are priority projects in the socio-economic component of CPEC and have been agreed by China and Pakistan.
The socio-economic component has been categorised in the various sectors, i.e, agriculture, education, medical, poverty alleviation, water supply and vocational education etc.
China-Pakistan Joint Agriculture Technology Laboratory, provision of agricultural equipment and tools, China-Pakistan Joint Agricultural Demonstration Station, Bacterial Grass (JunCao) Technology Training and Promotion Project and Pakistan Agricultural Vocational Training are projects in agriculture sector.
Provision of advanced teaching equipment for primary and secondary schools project, smart classroom project for higher education, maintenance and renovation for approximately 50 schools in newly merged districts, overseas student scholarship programme are included in the education sector.
Provision of medical equipment and materials, Gwadar hospital project, provision of vaccine storage & transportation equipment, “Brightness Journey” in Pakistan, burn center projects, China-Pakistan Joint Telemedicine network, medical emergency centers in Balochistan are part of medical sector of the socio-economic component.
The poverty alleviation projects are Balochistan solar powered lighting equipment, poverty alleviation training courses, provision of emergency relief supplies for ehanching NDMA disaster preparedness capacity at Islamabad and Karachi, China-Pakistan rural poverty reduction joint research project.
Drinking water supply equipment and Gwadar desalination plant are included in water supply sector.
Pakistan vocational schools equipment, upgrading & renovation project, Pakistan vocational & technical education capacity buildup project (Teacher Training), Gwadar vocational & technical school project, cooperative project with Pak-Austria Faehhochsehule: Institute of Applies Sciences & Technology and Punjab-Tianjin University Technology Project are part of vocational training sector.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2020