ISLAMABAD - China and Pakistan are likely to finalise one billion dollars Socio-Economic Development action plan under CPEC by the first week of March, it was learnt reliably here.

The Chinese experts group on socio-economic development is arriving in Pakistan on February 24 and will stay here for two weeks, official sources told The Nation here Tuesday.

This is a huge expert group consisting of 10 to 12 experts and will discuss the finalization of action plan with Pakistani experts, said the source. The finalization of action plan will help the government to launch pilot projects in the selective districts of the country. China has agreed to extend Pakistan grant for Socio-Economic Development through China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA).

In the 8th Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) meeting of Pakistan China Economic Corridor (CPEC) held in Beijing last year December, a joint working group on socio-economic development was established and it has devised a draft action plan. A memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the formation of JWG on socio-economic development and MoU on poverty reduction had been signed during the Prime Minister Imran Khan visit to China in November last year.

The joint working group (JWG) has identified six areas for future cooperation which includes education, agriculture, poverty alleviation, skill development, healthcare, water supply and vocational training projects. The action plan will provide guidelines in the developments of these six areas. The initiative will be focused on less developed areas of the country particularly Balochistan, Gilgit Baltistan, southern Khyber Pakhthunkha, Northern Sindh and Southern Punjab. 

Soon after the formation of working group, the federal government asked the recommendations of the provinces regarding the identifications of districts, areas of cooperation. Chinese socio-economic development experts team will hold meeting with the federal planning ministry and the officials and experts from the provinces to finalize the projects and its sites in already agreed six different areas.

The projects in the six identified areas will be funded through China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA). When asked about the quantum of the grant to be extended by China for the socio economic development, the source said that initially the Chinese grant will be around one billion dollars.

In the first phase, the pilot projects will be launched in the six identified fields and later projects will be extended to the entire backward areas of the country, said the source.