ISLAMABAD - Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar said that China had agreed to resolve the issues pertaining to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Energy projects through bilateral mechanism.

In an interaction with media, Asad Umar said that Pakistan had taken up the issue of IPPs with China through bilateral forums and they were ready to discuss it. Replying to a query regarding delay in making public the enquiry commission report on Independent Power Projects (IPPs), he said, "the report was not made public due to sensitivity of relations with China.

The minister said that work on the ML-I railway project would start formal construction of the project by first quarter next year and would complete it in nine years. He said that China had offered about 85pc financing for the project while Pakistan wanted China's financing share to be increased to 90 percent. He said that work on three Special Economic Zones would be started this year. Work on Rashakai Special Economic Zone in Khyber Pakhtukhwa, Bostan SEZ in Balochistan and Allama Iqbal SEZs in Punjab would commence from this year.

The minister said that in the next year PSDP, Rs 77 billion had been allocated for CPEC development projects. He said that in Balochistan the  big issue was of water shortage. We were initiating projects for the construction of Naulong and Wander dams to tackle the water crises in the province, he added.

Replying to a query, the Minister said, "I had a suggestion regarding Pakistan Steel Mills but since the cabinet had approved it's privatisation therefore he respected the decision.

He said that the shortage of water was a big issue for Karachi city and the projects related to water supply would be completed as soon as possible. He said that the government would start phase-I of Circular Railway project and had allocated Rs 11 billion for Green Line project for Karachi city.

Asad Umar said the provinces had been asked to allocate their share of Rs60 billion for development of tribal districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as promised in line with their NFC share.

He said the entire national leadership of the country had promised about two years ago to jointly spend Rs100bn every year for next 10 years on development of tribal districts now merged with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in addition to their usual annual development allocations.

He said the initiative took off with a lapse of about a year and current year about Rs24-25 billion could be spent under this head and had to be increased to Rs60bn next year.  The minister said that a lot of funds had been spent and dollars received in the name of the tribal region but no result could be seen on ground while enemy forces were very active in the region for destabilization.