March 14, 2019
ISLAMABAD: The Cabinet Committee on China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has decided to launch an important project of Western Route in Balochistan soon while ML-1 will be undertaken in different phases.
The decision was taken in a meeting chaired by Makhdum Khusro Bakhtyar, Minister for Planning, Development & Reform. The meeting was attended by members of the committee and secretaries of the federal ministries.
Briefing media on decisions of the committee, the minister said that government attaches priority to the construction of Western Route; therefore one of its important projects in Balochistan would be launched soon.
He informed that the committee has decided to develop Sukkur-Hyderabad section on Eastern Route through built-operate and transfer (BOT) mode and National Highway Authority will complete the design as well as feasibility and award of the contract will done in 2019. The project will yield savings of 2 to 2.5 billion dollars, he estimated.
Bakhtyar told that Cabinet Committee discussed the Pakistan’s Railways’ ML-1 in detail. An implementation committee, headed by minister Railways was constituted to identify financial savings, phasing of the project, scope etc. within two weeks in order to fast-track the project. Final decision would be made in the light of the committee recommendations, he added.
Minister PD&R informed that a Chinese experts’ team visited Pakistan and different level of discussions were held at federation and provinces. List of the projects in sectors including agriculture, education, health, poverty alleviation, water supply and vocational training is being finalised and would be shared with China soon. A Memorandum of Understanding on socioeconomic development would be signed to ensure early implementation of the projects with the cost of $400 to 500 million in first phase, he intimated.
Minister, while highlighting the importance of agriculture cooperation under CPEC, informed that the newly established joint working group will meet in the first week of April in order to expedite cooperation for modernising Pakistan agriculture sector and utilise potentials for export maximisation. It envisages cooperation in food supply chain, processing and cobranding, livestock and fisheries, enhancement of seeds quality, irrigations system and technology transfer, he added.
Bakhtyar said that no headways were achieved in industrial cooperation sector over the last five years; however, present government prioritised this field by ensuring speedy implementation wherein concession agreement of Special Economic Zone at Rashakai, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa would be signed till 25th of this month, while groundbreaking would be made in April next.
The Cabinet Committee also accorded approval to CPEC Business Forum in order to create an interface with the business community.
Minister said that a link between government institutions and business community was missing since the inception of CPEC. “The newly established forum, comprising of leading businessmen from different sectors, would work as a bridge between the government and business sectors”, he added.
Minister announced that groundbreaking of New Gwadar International Airport would be made till end of this month. Minister clarified that none of the funds allocated for CPEC projects were diverted to any other purpose; rather allocation for other initiatives in public sector development program (PSDP) were re-appropriated for sustainable development goals