ISLAMABAD - Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms Ahsan Iqbal has said that CPEC projects are moving forward swiftly and the first batch of projects including energy and infrastructure schemes would be completed by 2017-18.

The minister maintained that work on western route is progressing satisfactorily and directed authorities from NHA to hire local engineers on western route as it would provide employment opportunities to Pakistani engineers and boost economic activity. The minister expressed these views while chairing a high level meeting to review progress on CPEC projects and preparation of the upcoming CPEC Summit and Expo to be held on August 29, 2016.

The meeting was informed that Gwadar Airport and Eastbay Expressway in Gwadar are in advanced stages of approval by Chinese side and will hit ground breaking within couple of months. Minister directed to fast track work on technical and vocational training institutes of Gwadar and make them operational as early as possible.

Ahsan iqbal noted that CPEC was top priority of the government and economic corridor’s early harvest projects would be completed at a rapid pace.

While reviewing the energy projects in CPEC, Ahsan Iqbal said that speedy work on these projects is necessary to tackle the energy crisis and power needs of industrial zones in future under CPEC. He said that with the completion of the energy projects in early harvest projects, 10,000MW would be added in national grid by 2018. Ahsan Iqbal also underlined the need to use CPEC projects for making country a manufacturing economy rather a trading one for sustained economic growth.

''The China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is fate changer for 3 billion people across the region. CPEC is the national project and politics on this will be injustice with the people of Pakistan'', minister said. Government and all its functionaries are committed to accomplish its projects in letter and spirit that fall under the frame work of CPEC, he added. He said that CPEC will equally benefit the most backward areas of Pakistan. It will not only connect 200 million of Pakistan rather it would open several avenues of cooperation for the people, communities and states across the region. He further added that no one will be allowed to sabotage this project of national importance.

The meeting also reviewed the preparations of CPEC Summit & Expo which will be held on 29th of August at Pakistan China Friendship Centre Islamabad. It is being hosted by Ministry of Planning, Development and Reforms to mark the signing of $46 billion China -Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) programme. The Summit aims to enhance awareness about CPEC initiative, its scope, time frame and investments. Federal minister directed relevant ministries and stall holders to showcase their achievements at the upcoming CPEC Expo and leave no stone unturned to make it successful.

He said that CPEC Summit and Expo will provide a platform for exchanging ideas and open new avenues for increasing business. This will help for strengthening business to business relationships, he added. Ahsan Iqbal said that CPEC summit would enable provinces to explore opportunities in CPEC to promote inclusive development and it would also help to create strong links between academia and industry for collaborative research in areas relating of CPEC.

Minister emphasized that CPEC Summit would bring opportunities for Pakistani investors and will enable them to develop collaboration with Chinese enterprises. It would also create awareness about CPEC among private sector of Pakistan and about developing business opportunities.