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6 years ago

Federal Minister Prof. Ahsan Iqbal - National Seminar on CPEC - Lahore

Planning Commission
LAHORE, Pakistan: Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms Prof Ahsan Iqbal Saturday clarified that there was no pre-decided or approved route in Pakistan under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) while Pak-China Industrial Working Group has yet to be constituted, therefore, reports about any change of the CPEC route or shifting of industrial zones from the western route was baseless and misleading.

He was speaking at a seminar on ‘Different facets of China-Pak Economic Corridor Project’ organized jointly by Pakistan Institute of National Affairs (PINA) and University of Management and Technology (UMT) at a local hotel.

Ahsan Iqbal said the CPEC was being executed on the pattern through which the China had attained her developmental goals, and that pattern based upon the principles: No projects would be launched without having scientific planning; this is an enterprise and we (Chinese) will do it in steps/phases; we will take the easy path first.

The Federal Minister said the CPEC was being developed on four pillars- (i) Development of the CPEC gateway city of Gawadar, (ii) Give an end to energy/electricity crisis in Pakistan, (iii) Infrastructural/road network development, (iv) Industrialization.

He elaborated that Gawadar city was being developed on modern lines so that it could facilitate the mega trade activities in future, and out of the USD 46 billion Chinese investment, USD 35 billion (77 percent) was being spent on energy projects on the IPP (Independent Power Producer) mode with approval of the NEPRA, while government had no discretion in utilizing these funds. He added that projects of all energy resources including hydel, coal, solar, wind have been initiated across Pakistan.

Ahsan Iqbal said that infrastructural and road network development was also being focused and all missing links were being constructed and work on all the CPEC routes- western, central and eastern- was underway expeditiously. Lahore- Karachi Motorway was not part of the CPEC and constructed under the BOT (Build, Operate and Transfer) and with the toll tax money however, China was providing concessional financing for its Multan-Sukkur section, he maintained.

The Federal Minister said that with the completion of three main pillar of Gawadar development, energy and infrastructure, the industrialization would be focused, asserting that Pak-China Industrial Working Group would then be formed.

Ahsan Iqbal clarified that CPEC was not the ADP (Annual Development Programme) or the PSDP (Public Sector Development Plan) but a mega project of 15 years. He added that CPEC was also not the project of Chinese financial assistance but it was vital project of overall socio-economic development of Pakistan and the entire region.

He said that initially, India had opposed the CPEC but she had now realized that this Corridor would be highly viable for her trade with China, and she had also perceived that she could not survive in isolation.

Ahsan Iqbal said that the US, Europe and Central Asian states were very much in contact with Pakistan government and welcoming the China Pak Economic Corridor.

The CPEC projects would be a game changer and transform Pakistan into an economic hub for Afghanistan, Central Asian states and China.

“We must not spoil this opportunity of CPEC and do not miss this turning point that has the potential to turnaround the country’s economy,” he added.

He asserted that in next 10 years, Pakistan would be at a trajectory from where her economy could take-off at a faster pace however, mega investment was a must to achieve this target.

The countries, which made Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) as the basis for development, had excelled in the world and their economies grew at a faster pace, he said and recalled that South Korea was far behind economically as in 1960s, her exports were then $ 60 million against Pakistan’s $ 200 million but today, S. Korean export volume swelled to $ 570 billion and Pakistan could increase her exports mere up to $ 25 billion.

In 1991, then PML-N government had initiated a comprehensive economic reform programme that unfortunately, faced obstruction due to dictatorial rule and the successive elected government did not pay any heed towards it. The pause in the economic reforms had given space to our neighbouring country and even Bangladesh to over-take Pakistan on economic front.

Ahsan Iqbal said that two year ago, the western media and global institutions had been terming Pakistan a dangerous state but today the same media and institutions were all praised of Pakistan and declared her as rising economy in the Asia. He said, Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves had touched the record high of USD 21 billion from the lowest level of USD 6 billion two years back.

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