ISLAMABAD    -   Pakistani and Chinese authorities were on the odd side in the CPEC review meeting as the later has complained about the red-tapism and delays of several of the corridor’s projects. “We have been exhausted in the meetings and paper work and a matter which usually could be resolved in one month almost takes four months for its finalization,” official sources told The Nation while quoting the Chinese officials during the 58th CPEC review meeting here.

Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms Mukhdum Khusro Bakhtyar chaired the 58th Progress Review Meeting of CPEC projects . Chinese ambassador Yao Jing, DCPC Dr Mohammad Jehanzeb Khan, Secretary Planning Zafar Hasan, representatives from Chinese enterprises and senior officials from relevant ministries also attended the meeting.

Official sources said that during the meeting Pakistani side was pushing Chinese for the early inauguration of Sukkur-Multan Motorway, Rashakai Special Economic Zone (SEZ) and Gwadar International airport. The National Highway Authority officials have asked the representative of the Chinese company that they want the inauguration of Sukkur Multan Motorway within next few days, said the source. However, Chinese side was of the view that they have their machinery on the site and it is not possible for them to do the inauguration within next couple of days as demanded by NHA, said the source. However, later Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms asked both the sides to sit together and resolve the issue, said the source.  Similarly, the issue of the ground breaking of Rashakai SEZ was also discussed and the Chinese have complained that neither water nor electricity were provided to the site, therefore it cannot be inaugurated without the provision of basic amenities. The Chinese side was also upset over the delay in issuing of exemption to the import of machinery by FBR which is causing delay in projects.

Meanwhile, a press statement issued here stated that Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reform Mukhdum Khusro Bakhtyar has said that China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, as stated by Prime Minister Imran Khan, is a project of great national significance for Pakistan which will be a harbinger of development and prosperity for Pakistan and the region.

The minister said that the incumbent government, in consultation with the Government of China, has succeeded in expanding its scope to include other priority areas under its framework including socio-economic development, poverty alleviation, agricultural and industrial cooperation. “The second phase, as envisioned by Prime Minister Imran Khan, will focus, among others, on welfare projects for the betterment of the people of Pakistan and we are thankful to the Government of China for broadening its framework which will contribute to the sustained development of Pakistan,” stated the minister. The minister reiterated that the government remains fully committed to realize the potential and opportunities under CPEC framework.

Speaking on the occasion, Chinese ambassador Yao Jing said that CPEC is heading in the right direction, adding that CPEC is quite different from other Belt and Road initiatives as this flagship project manifests the longstanding friendship between the two friendly countries and will bring prosperity and progress for Pakistan. CPEC is a product of vision of two brotherly countries that goes beyond traditional business dealings reflecting decades old strong bonds of bilateral cooperation and shared goals with win-win situation for all. He stressed that the project will continue to progress on expedited pace, as reiterated by PM Imran Khan in his recent meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister, for timely completion of all projects.

During the meeting, various projects of CPEC were discussed in detail one by one. Secretary Power informed that the synchronized demand-supply study of CPEC energy projects will be firmed up by October 2019. NEPRA said that all pending tariff issues including of Port Qasim and Gwadar’s 300MW coal project will be resolved soon. Talking about Kohala Hydro Power project, minister for planning said that it is an important project and expressed gratitude to the Government of China and Three Gorges for extending cooperation in this regard. It was decided that process for establishing appellate tribunal will be expedited to resolve future tariff issues of energy projects. It was informed that the Gwadar development Authority, headed by Chief Minister Balochistan, has approved the Gwadar city master plan with some minor modifications. Secretary Communications informed that Multan-Sukkur motorway will be opened soon for general traffic as the work was almost complete.

Planning minister and the Chinese ambassador appreciated the pace of work on the East Bay Expressway project. Orange Line Train project and ongoing projects in Gwadar were also deliberated upon in detail. The minister said that SEZs would help in boosting Pakistan’s exports and achieving sustainable economic growth.

The meeting deliberated upon issues confronting different projects and it was decided to fast track their resolution for timely completion of all projects. Minister for Planning underlined the need for meeting the projects’ timelines and called for further gearing up the momentum in CPEC projects .