ISLAMABAD - Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reform Ahsan Iqbal has said that not even a single dollar of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) investment is being processed through the government of Pakistan’s accounts.

While briefing the Senate Forum for Policy Research (SFPR) at Pakistan Institute of Parliamentary Services (PIPS), under the chairmanship of Syed Nayer Hussain Bokhari, the minister said that CPEC would enlist Pakistan among top 25 economies of the world by 2025. He said that $50 billion investment under the framework of CPEC has integrated Pakistan’s economy with the world for the first time.

The minister briefed the participants that CPEC framework includes energy, infrastructure, Gwadar and development of Industry Cooperation which would be completed in four phases; early harvest projects by 2017-18, short term by 2020, medium term by 2025 and long term by 2030. Stating the facts and mode of financing mechanism, he made it clear that complete transparency is being ensured in investment of CPEC.

Explaining the breakdown of Chinese investment under CPEC, he stated that the $35 billion investment under Energy Portfolio is being done in Independent Power Producer’s (IPP) Mode which is being regulated by the Nepra. He further said that CPEC energy projects would generate 14000-15000 megawatts of electricity which would help overcome the prevailing energy crisis. CPEC energy portfolio includes coal, hydel and renewable energy projects. Three hydel projects including Sukki Kinari, Karot and Kohalaare were being executed under CPEC umbrella projects.

He further noted that the process of selecting a construction company is done through a transparent process where China through National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) proposes three names. Pakistan selects the cost effective and efficient company for the CPEC Projects. In the same manner, he apprised the participants that infrastructure sector projects are being financed through concessional loans on a meager low interest rate of two percent payable over 20-25 years.

On western route, he said that it would be completed by 2018 while adding that work on different sections including Hakla-Burhan and Dera Ismail Khan Zhobe of western route is being done on high priority according to the decisions made in All Parties Conference held in 28 May 2015.

The minister stated that the development of Gwadar deep sea port would usher in a new era of development in Balochistan. He highlighted that Gwadar International Airport, Gwadar Expressway and 300 Megawatt electricity project has been planned for Gwadar alongside water treatment plants and rail networks, schools, Gwadar University and state-of-the-art hospital for the local people of area.

In this regard, he pertinently mentioned that the completion of missing link of western route from Quetta to Gwadar stretch about 650km has reduced travel time to mere 8 hours which was otherwise a two-day long journey.

He further said that up-gradation of Mainline One ML-1 (Karachi-Peshawar-Landikotal Line) is being done whereas feasibility study for extension of railway line up till Gwadar and Quetta to Peshawar have been started. Up-gradation of ML-1 would cost $8 billion and its completion would double the speed of railway from 80 to 160 km/h.

The minister briefed the participants about nine Special Economic Zones (SEZs) which have been agreed between Pakistan and China. He said that all provinces would be developing one Special Economic Zone each whereas the federal government would be developing SEZ in Islamabad and on federal land of Pakistan Steel Mill in Karachi.

The minister expressed hope that CPEC would bring in eight major benefits. He keenly noted that $50 billion would boost GDP growth rate by 6-8 percent, ensure energy security besides overcoming prevailing energy crisis, bolster Pakistan’s industrial capacity and link Pakistan’s rural and remote areas with urban centers. He further said that CPEC would strengthen Pakistan domestically, brings in prosperity, enabling transfer of knowledge and technology as well as would elevate Pakistan’s regional status.

Replying a query, he said that the dualisation of Indus Highway (Kohat to Lakki Marwat) has been started and funds have been released from Federal PSDP. Similarly, he informed the participants that work would be initiated on Kohat-Pindi Gaip link road from western route soon. He further stated that two major road arteries from Kabul to Quetta and Herat to Turkmenistan are being planned under CAREC framework.

Replying another question on Balochistan, he stated that road networks are being laid out across the province especially Gwadar. Similarly, Gwadar University is being built and two million gallon/day Reverse Osmosis plant is being made functional again. In addition, a 5MGDs new desalination is in progress under CPEC.

Participants of SFPR included Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed, Senator Saood Majeed, Wasim Sajjad, Senator (R) Afrasiyab Khattak, Muhammad Anwar Bhinder, Senator (R) Javed Jabbar, Rukhsana Zuberi, Haroon Akhtar Khan and Razeena Alam Khan.