ISLAMABAD  -  Moving from the bilateralism in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Project, both countries have agreed to broaden up the corridor project for third country/party participation.

China and Pakistan have agreed to establish two focal points to evolve mechanism for the third country/party participation in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, said Federal Minister for Planning Development and Reforms Khusro Bakhtiyar while talking to media here after the CPEC review meeting. The CPEC review meeting was also attended by Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Yao Jing.

The focal points are National Development and Reforms Commission (NDRC) and China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) secretariats. “Pakistan provides connectivity to various regions/countries and CPEC should be opened for other countries investment. Opening up for the 3rd party participation will send a message that the country is open for business,” he added.

The decision to open CPEC for the third party participation will open ways for other countries and investors to join the corridor project.

The minister said that out of total national debt the loans acquired for CPEC projects is only $6 billion. At the moment, no CPEC-related repayment is due as the repayment will start in 2021. Bakhtyar said that it has been decided that all the new future power projects running on imported coal will be banned. The government will focus on hydropower generation, he added.

The minister said that ongoing project under CPEC will be completed within the stipulated time. Keeping main focus on Gwadar, SEZs, ML-I and Karachi Circular Railway(KCR), work will continue on the early harvest projects agreed under CPEC framework, he added. The main focus of the PTI government is to overhaul economy, increase growth, create jobs, and increase manufacturing base in Pakistan.

Instead of motorways and metros, the previous government should have focused on the ML-I project, he said. The minister said ML-1 project is economically more viable as compared to motorways or metros. Under the project up-gradation of railway tracks from Karachi to Peshawar will be done. This will increase Pakistan Railways’ speed up to 160 kilometers per hour and ensure effective cargo transportation.

Khusro Bakhtiyar said the present government gives priority to Gwadar and all the projects located in the port city will be completed on priority basis. Gwadar Airport and vocational institute ground-breaking will take place by the end of this year.

The minister said during his meeting with Chinese officials it has been decided that a new sub-group in the Working Groups of CPEC will be formed. To further broaden the CPEC-related prosperity, a sub-group titled socio-economic development has been formed to enhance cooperation in education, health, skill development, housing, agriculture, and other sectors, he added.

The minister said the previous government was focusing on power generation but neglected the transmission system. He said the incumbent government will bring transmission lines projects into CPEC. Unless the transmission and distribution losses are controlled circular debt will keep on increasing, he added.

In reply to a query, the minister said that they are not going to review the CPEC projects.