Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh on Friday said the government is working to expedite work on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects.
“The government is taking several institutional steps to further speed-up implementation of the CPEC projects,” the adviser said.
He made these remarks while meeting with the Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Yao Jing.
“Hafeez Shaikh emphasised that the corridor was the culmination and anchor of the great friendship and deep-rooted collaboration of the people and governments of China and Pakistan to realize their joint destiny, achieve their common objectives and ensure a more prosperous future for both nations,” a press release issued by the Finance Ministry showed.
The Finance Ministry, however, did not share the government’s plans to expedite work on CPEC projects.
The statement comes one day after China and Pakistan agreed to begin construction of the Kohala Hydropower Plant on Jhelum river, Muzaffarabad, Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
The $2.4bn hydropower project, which falls under the ambit of CPEC, is the largest investment in the country’s power sector and will produce 1,124MW electricity.
The CPEC projects under China’s $1 trillion Belt and Road Initiative have hit a snag since the last three years. The early-harvest projects of the multi-billion dollar corridor including energy, road and rail networks and communication infrastructure have already been completed.
However, the incumbent PTI government, after coming into power announced a comprehensive review of all CPEC projects and deals. The PTI accused the PML-N government of taking millions in kickbacks while awarding the contracts to local and foreign companies.
The call for review led to a delay in implementing the remaining projects including the Kohala Hydropower project, which was shelved back in 2015.
Moreover, the second phase of CPEC, which involved setting up of Special Economic Zones in cities across the world has also been stalled. Chinese investors, despite their government’s support, are unwilling to set up industries in Pakistan.
The Pakistan government has announced massive tax breaks to lure in investors. The situation is further complicated by the government’s failure to provide adequate facilities like utilities, roads etc at these zones.