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JCC of CPEC to meet on November 6: Pakistan to request China for financing ML-1 project under soft conditions

Mehtab Haider

October 30, 2019

Pakistan will ask China to provide phased wise financing for ML-1 for period of 10 to 15 years with spread over period of 30 years and with minimum interest rate.

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has decided to make fresh request to China for getting lucrative package of over $8.5 billion for construction of much-awaited railways Mainline (ML-1) from Peshawar to Karachi.

In the upcoming Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) meeting under much-trumpeted China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) scheduled to be held here in Islamabad on November 6, 2019, Pakistan will ask China to provide phased wise financing for ML-1 for period of 10 to 15 years with spread over period of 30 years and with minimum interest rate.

So Islamabad could only move ahead for construction of ML-1 with lenient conditions despite having remained under the IMF arrangement. Without soft conditions for financing from China, the ML-1 financing will become difficult when Pakistan is currently under the IMF programme.

Pakistan would take up different projects including moving towards initiation of financing modalities for ML-1, financing of Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) after completion on pattern of Orange Line project for Lahore, mutual cooperation in agriculture sector with the purpose to promote research, announcing date of groundbreaking of Rashakai near Nowshera (KP) and then second SEZ at Dahbiji in Sindh. China has also decided to provide 20,000 scholarships for Pakistani students for studying into Chinese universities each year over next three years.

In an exclusive talk with The News here at office, Secretary Ministry of Planning Zafar Hasan shared details about upcoming JCC under CPEC mechanism and said that Chinese delegation led by Chairman NDRC along with delegation would reach Pakistan on November 3 and then Chinese delegation would visit Gwadar to inaugurate 300 megawatt coal power plant.

He said that Pakistan would request China to provide financing for ML-1 that could also become feasible under the IMF programme. He said the PC-1 for the construction of ML-1 was not yet approved but now the Planning Commission and Ministry of Railways decided to accelerate the process of approving this project in phased manner. The PC-1 for ML-1, he said, would be submitted again for getting approval from different forums.

Earlier, the Ministry of Railways had submitted PC-1 for ML-1 before the CDWP but it did not get approval because of certain observations made over the PC-1 for first phase with estimated cost of around $2.6 billion.

The government, he said, was going to request China to extend loan for extended period with spread over of 30 years and with minimum interest rates. He said that Pakistan also decided to seek financing for construction of KCR as the Orange Line Project was completed in Lahore so Sindh project should also be financed through this pattern. He said that Gwadar projects including construction of hospital, vocational training center and additional financing for Eastbay Expressways as China would provide loan on zero interest rate.

The Secretary Planning said that Pakistan and China would sign agreement for promoting cooperation in areas of agriculture research as National Agriculture Research Council (NARC) Pakistan and Chinese side would establish institutional cooperation to promote agriculture sector. The groundbreaking of SEZ at Rashakai, he said, would be done in November as the date to this effect would be announce on eve of JCC meeting.

“We have proposed incentive package for the SEZs and proposed draft shared with the Board of Investment after conducting comparative analysis of comparable economies in a bid to provide best of the best package for SEZs for potential investors”, he said and added that this upcoming package would determine the success of the SEZs.


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