Skip to main content

Overselling of CPEC diverts attention from other sectors

By Shakeel Ahmad Ramay

Overselling and generating high hopes are now creating real challenges for the country and the economic corridor. PHOTO:FILE

ISLAMABAD: Since the signing of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) agreement in 2015, an intensifying race for taking credit for the gigantic project has been going on.

All political parties including the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and other actors of the state are part of this race. No one is ready to analyse the programme from China’s perspective.

Although some analysts bring the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) under discussion, talk about actual planning behind the concept is missing at large. Lack of clarity on CPEC, BRI and the Chinese design and model of development have greatly restricted debate on the programme.

CPEC starts bearing fruit for people

The PML-N government extensively used CPEC as a major idea, brainchild and achievement of its tenure. Since the programme’s inception, it continued to highlight the importance of the project and the fruits it would bear.

Overselling and generating high hopes are now creating real challenges for the country and the economic corridor. It has also diverted government’s attention from performing in other priority areas and sectors. The PML-N government’s main slogan during the 2013 campaign was that it would eradicate electricity load-shedding and CPEC provided an excellent opportunity to fulfill the promise. However, it could not fully capitalise on the opportunity as it ignored most important areas.

Major problems in governance in the power sector are low revenue collection and poor supply efficiency, followed by high line losses. It is estimated that every year Pakistan loses almost Rs213 billion in line loses and theft.

Losses are not equally distributed among different regions of the country. Sukkur tops the list with 37% losses, followed by Peshawar.

It is an alarming situation as it costs the country on many fronts. First of all, it hurts the payment structure of private companies, which is one of the main reasons behind circular debt. Secondly, it undermines the rights of citizens who are paying their bills regularly. It also hampers capacity of the government to invest in new ventures. Private companies also get discouraged from pouring capital into the country due to non-payment issues.

Despite the importance of the issue, the government did not pay heed to improving the efficiency of the transmission network and remained busy outlining the achievements of CPEC.

China gives fresh assurance on CPEC financing

Now after the completion of several energy projects under CPEC, Pakistan is still facing load-shedding and people have started to question the CPEC-related energy programmes and investments.

Following such inquiries, the PML-N has started to blame the invisible hand, rather than accepting its inefficiency in governance of the energy sector.

Polishing skills

Another area of mismanagement is the lack of investment in areas associated with CPEC. The government could not devise a strategy to enhance investment in skill development programmes. Pakistan does not even have any initial estimates to gauge the gap between supply and demand, sector-specific demand and new areas of skill development.

At present, only sporadic work is being done like Punjab government’s initiative in cooperation with Tianjin University in Lahore and some other small initiatives in Gwadar. These initiatives have been undertaken because China has emphasised on its importance and provided support.

All governments including national and provincial ignored this important element. PTI in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), PPP in Sindh and allied government in Balochistan could not devise any comprehensive skill development programme to reap benefits of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) and other initiatives in their respective provinces. It will hurt the country on a wide scale. Firstly, workers will be left out of jobs due to low skills or no skills. Secondly, industries will have to look for alternatives and may consider workers from other countries. And then, it will hurt efforts to curb poverty among the masses.

Arrival of foreign workers will create issues for local communities, including social disturbance as immigrants do not understand local culture and values.

Pakistan is already facing this problem. It is being debated among some circles that CPEC has attracted a huge influx of Chinese workers and they liken the situation to the one when East India Company was set up in the sub-continent.

The challenge for the upcoming government will be to mitigate this impression by deploying resources for skill development of common people.

Pakistan’s policy and decision-makers should also present a realistic picture to common citizens. It should be communicated that real benefits of CPEC will be visible after 2022 or 2030.

A huge number of jobs will be created after the completion of SEZs, investment in agriculture and tourism. SEZs will also encourage entrepreneurship at the local level. But for reaping benefits, Pakistan must invest in capacity-building and skill development of local communities.

It is being concluded that a right set of policy and political actions are direly needed to maximise benefits of CPEC. However, the government should not ignore other sectors of the economy as achievements of CPEC will be lost due to inefficiency in those sectors.

For instance, we invested in energy and are about to achieve self-sufficiency in production, yet we are still facing the problem of load-shedding. It clearly depicts a lack of good governance. The incoming government will have to focus on two things. First is the dire need of governance reforms as poor governance will hamper progress in all sectors.

Second is the need to de-politicise CPEC. It must be treated as a state-to-state initiative rather than a government-to-government initiative. No political party should treat it as its achievement, but it can highlight its part in delivery. Last but the most important thing is the implementation of better governance model, which is the key area to ensure sharing of CPEC benefits.

Pakistan must devise a programme for capacity enhancement of bureaucracy in the context of changing governance models. The Ministry of Planning should take the lead in capacity building. In the absence of governance reforms, Pakistan will lose the opportunity. It will also have severe implications for China’s image as a friend to Pakistan.

Pakistan and China are facing multiple smear campaigns at the global level. We do not have any option except to introduce and implement comprehensive reforms to reap full benefits of CPEC.

The writer is the Head of Centre for Future Policy and Head of Research Coordination Unit, Sustainable Development Policy Institute

 

Published in The Express Tribune, July 9th, 2018.

https://tribune.com.pk/story/1753031/2-overselling-cpec-diverts-attention-sectors/

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Rise of China-Europe Railways

https://www.csis.org/analysis/rise-china-europe-railways

The Rise of China-Europe RailwaysMarch 6, 2018The Dawn of a New Commercial Era?For over two millennia, technology and politics have shaped trade across the Eurasian supercontinent. The compass and domesticated camels helped the “silk routes” emerge between 200 and 400 CE, and peaceful interactions between the Han and Hellenic empires allowed overland trade to flourish. A major shift occurred in the late fifteenth century, when the invention of large ocean-going vessels and new navigation methods made maritime trade more competitive. Mercantilism and competition among Europe’s colonial powers helped pull commerce to the coastlines. Since then, commerce between Asia and Europe has traveled primarily by sea.1Against this historical backdrop, new railway services between China and Europe have emerged rapidly. Just 10 years ago, regular direct freight services from China to Europe did not exist.2 Today, they connect roughly 35 Chinese…

SSG Commando Muddassir Iqbal of Pakistan Army

“ Commando Muddassir Iqbal was part of the team who conducted Army Public School operation on 16 December 2014. In this video he reveals that he along with other commandos was ordered to kill the innocent children inside school, when asked why should they kill children after killing all the terrorist he was told that it would be a chance to defame Taliban and get nation on the side. He and all other commandos killed children and later Taliban was blamed.
Muddassir Iqbal has deserted the military and now he is  with mujahedeen somewhere in AF PAK border area”
For authenticity of  this tape journalists can easy reach to his home town to interview his family members or   ISPR as he reveals his army service number”
Asalam o Alaikum: My name is Muddassir Iqbal. My father’s name is Naimat Ali. I belong to Sialkot divison (Punjab province), my village is Shamsher Poor and district, tehsil and post office  Narowal. Unfortunately I was working in Pakistan army. I feel embarrassed to tell you …

CPEC Jobs in Pakistan, salary details

JOBS...نوکریاں چائنہ کمپنی میںPlease help the deserving persons...Salary:Salary package in China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in these 300,000 jobs shall be on daily wages. The details of the daily wages are as follows;Welder: Rs. 1,700 dailyHeavy Duty Driver: Rs. 1,700 dailyMason: Rs. 1,500 dailyHelper: Rs. 850 dailyElectrician: Rs. 1,700 dailySurveyor: Rs. 2,500 dailySecurity Guard: Rs. 1,600 dailyBulldozer operator: Rs. 2,200 dailyConcrete mixer machine operator: Rs. 2,000 dailyRoller operator: Rs. 2,000 dailySteel fixer: Rs. 2,200 dailyIron Shuttering fixer: Rs. 1,800 dailyAccount clerk: Rs. 2,200 dailyCarpenter: Rs. 1,700 dailyLight duty driver: Rs. 1,700 dailyLabour: Rs. 900 dailyPara Engine mechanic: Rs. 1,700 dailyPipe fitter: Rs. 1,700 dailyStorekeeper: Rs. 1,700 dailyOffice boy: Rs. 1,200 dailyExcavator operator: Rs. 2,200 dailyShovel operator: Rs. 2,200 dailyComputer operator: Rs. 2,200 dailySecurity Supervisor: Rs. 2,200 dailyCook for Chinese food: Rs. 2,000 dailyCook…