Asad Umar terms setting up of SEZs govt's top priority
ISLAMABAD: Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar on Friday said the pace of implementation of projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) would be accelerated further in the days to come.
In a meeting with Chinese Ambassador Yao Jing, matters relating to CPEC, business-to-business collaboration between the two countries and social sector development in Pakistan came under discussion.
The minister expressed satisfaction over the overall delivery of CPEC projects and said that the establishment and operationalisation of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in all the provinces was a top priority and progress in that regard was being closely monitored.
SEZs, he said, would act as a catalyst to increase the growth of manufacturing in the country.
The Chinese ambassador expressed keen interest in putting special attention to rail transport, hydroelectric power projects, social sector development projects and B2B collaboration between the two countries.
He stated that China would also consider investing in the low-cost housing programme in Pakistan.
Yao said meetings of some of the CPEC Joint Working Groups would be held through video conferencing to ensure preparation for the upcoming Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) meeting without any delay.
The planning minister also said the provincial and federal governments were highly interested in the Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) project and discussed latest developments regarding the project.
Umar emphasised the need for enhancing B2B collaboration in banking, telecom and digital finance, manufacturing and agriculture sectors.
Separately, in a meeting with Yao, Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh thanked China for supporting Pakistan in the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) meetings.
“China and other brotherly countries have supported Pakistan throughout the process in terms of guiding the country in improving its frameworks,” he said.
The adviser and the Chinese envoy met to review preparations for the upcoming visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping, according to a press release.
During the meeting, both sides also discussed progress on CPEC and measures to enhance bilateral trade between the two countries. Matters of bilateral interest were discussed and they agreed to enhance economic cooperation.
The Chinese ambassador said it was a difficult time for the people of China as they were facing the outbreak of novel coronavirus. He added that China was dealing patiently with the virus and hoped to overcome it very soon.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 22nd, 2020.