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The dawn of the CPEC era

PERSPECTIVES

Short-term and long-term strategies are being used in CPEC in the field of energy, transportation infrastructure, and the Gwadar port

Yasir Habib Khan

SEPTEMBER 20, 2018

Pakistan is never going to rollback and abandon  China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Asia’s first transport corridor and the lifeline of Xi’s global Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Considering the avalanche of benefits some which have already been reaped and the rest will take effect soon.

Reason to keep the ball rolling on the CPEC project is that the civil and military leadership underpinned by a league of economists are all on the same page with no misgivings. Moreover, the understanding between both Islamabad and Beijing marks the immortalization of the project.

For Pakistan, CPEC is as beneficial as atomic technology policy, since both serve national interests on security and economic landscapes.

Earlier Pakistan was battling energy dearth, economic meltdown, insecurity, withering governance system, poverty, unemployment, food & water shortage, and financial mismanagements. However, with the launch of CPEC, we have begun to recover due to the economic take-off whilst riding on the fate-changing tide of the BRI project.

The country’s economic scenario appears promising with an initiative of approximately $ 62 billion. Our total GDP has spiked from $244 billion in 2014 to more than $ 313.13 billion in 2018, another $13 billion will be received by 2025, with a 2 percent to 2.5 percent annual economic growth rate projected till 2030

CPEC has been working on short-term and long-term strategies in the field of energy, transportation infrastructure, and the Gwadar port.

SMEs have been dying in Pakistan. When CPEC becomes a reality, these enterprises will get a new lease on life and will be able to capitalise on new partnerships and enhance cooperation with Chinese companies


CPEC’s major infrastructure projects related to roads and railways include KKH PhaseII (Havelian-Thakot Section) of120 km, Karachi-Lahore Motorway (Sukkur-Multan Section) of 392 km, Khuzdar-Basima Highway (N-30) of 110 km, KKH Phase III (Raikot-Thakot Section)  of 280 km, and D.I.Khan-Quetta Highway (N-50) of 533 km. Most of them are nearing completion. Linking Kashgar of the Xinjiang Autonomous Region of China to Gwadar port of the province of Balochistan, Pakistan. They will offer fast and qualitative logistics, travelling and transport facilities, and new alignments that will lead to economic growth. Upgrading Pakistan Railways’ Mainline 1 (ML-1), Karachi-Lahore-Peshawar route will cost $8.176 billion, but it will help in overhauling railway transportation which has been in decline over the past few decades. The Pakistan Railway has dealt with over 70 percent of the national freight load in 1970, and now carries only 4 percent. Experts believe that this will increase to 21 percent after the CPEC rail project is completed with a surge in freight traffic from 5 to 25 million tonnes per annum by 2025. The passenger traffic is also expected to increase by 46 percent, from 55 to 80 million passengers per annum.

Pakistan is gearing to charge a hefty tariff for transportation of goods through the trade corridor. The financial benefits would be the same as those that are available in Panama.  Long-term gains will help improve education, health and technical skills. This will cause a boom in high tech industries in Pakistan.

Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) constitute around 92 percent of the 3.3 million private enterprises in the industry, services and trade sectors in the country; and employ around 71 percent of the non-agriculture labour force.

However, SMEs have been dying in Pakistan. When CPEC becomes a reality, these enterprises will get a new lease on life and will be able to capitalise on new partnerships and enhance cooperation with Chinese companies.

China is ready to assist Pakistan in developing comparatively advantageous industries in the mining, agriculture and manufacturing sectors. In order to provide a number of benefits to boost up SMEs, Special Economic Zones (SEZs) are going to be established in the coming days.

They will provide Pakistani investors incentives regarding tax breaks, an exception to sale tax, excise tax, custom duties, financial arrangements, concessional utilities like electricity, gas, and water, educational and health facilities, capacity buildings for skill enhancements, special course and training for skilled and semi-skilled workers. SEZs will cater to both low-end and high-end products. Since 2013, Pakistan has been suffering from severe power outages with a power deficit of up to 20 hours a day.

CPEC has improved the situation by unleashing various power projects. A total of $ 33.8 billion in energy projects, including 12,230 megawatts of energy. Access to electricity for rural population has increased from 90 percent in 2015 to 98.8 percent.  Pakistan’s Ministry of Planning Development and Reforms, hopes that after all the CPEC energy projects are completed, the country’s current electricity production will be doubled.

Pakistan is experiencing critical water and food security. As per Economic survey estimation, almost 60 percent population is affected by food insecurity. The analysis further unveils that the situation in 2025 will be more complicated due to population increase and climate change.

Fortunately, CPEC in tune with the Pakistan Vision of 2025 has prioritized these areas. Pursuing Vision 2025, water storage is expected to increase to up to 90 days from 30 days. Food shortage will be down by 30 percent.

To improve food security, agriculture is to play a leading role. Long Term Plan (LTP) of CPEC gives a comprehensive list of programmes for investment. It includes farming, livestock breeding, forestry, and food growing.

Gwadar, once an abandoned small sluggish fishing town located at the Arabian Sea in Pakistan’s southwest Balochistan Province, is now experiencing a massive vibe of development projects which are creating new opportunities for employment and business

After CPEC is unveiled, the projected poverty rate has continued to drop. Poverty at the $1.90 international poverty line is estimated at 4.9 percent in 2018, down from 6.1 in 2013.  Moreover, according to a report by the World Bank, over the same period, a 12 percent reduction in poverty is also projected for the $3.2 poverty line, while a lower improvement of (4 percent) is projected at the $5.5 poverty line.

The writer is special contributor to China Today and China Radio International (CRI). He is a fellow of the International Centre for Journalists (ICFJ) and is a recipient of China-friendly Netizen 2017 award. He can be reached at yaseerkhan@hotmail.com or on twitter at @yasirkhann

Published in Daily Times, September 20th 2018.


https://dailytimes.com.pk/300425/the-dawn-of-the-cpec-era/

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