Ahsan concerned over sluggish progress on CPEC projects
ISLAMABAD – Federal Minister for Planning, Development & Special Initiatives Ahsan Iqbal has expressed serious concern over the sluggish progress on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects.
“How pathetic the delay on CPEC projects which is the potential game changer for the region,” said Ahsan Iqbal while chairing a high level meeting to review the progress on projects CPEC projects. The meeting was attended by Secretary PD&SI, secretaries of various ministries and other relevant officials. Executive Director, CPEC, Qammar Sarwar Abbasi gave a briefing to the minister over the so far progress in executing the projects which is a game changer for the region. While showing his displeasure over the slow progress, the minister directed the official concerned to hold a progress review meeting fortnightly. The minister observed that there is zero progress on Industrial Zones of Port Qasim, Islamabad and Mirpur which is unfortunate. “When you don’t value your investors why they would come for investment”, lamented the minister. In 2017, the excitement around SEZs was so high that all major foreign direct investors were lining up to be a part of it. However, due to delay in projects Chinese investors moved away, said the minister. The minister noted that further delay in projects will not be acceptable and directed the officials to expedite the work. “How would you attract our investors when we fail to complete such important projects in time, the minister said while directing the concerned official to hold a separate meeting over SEZs so it could be streamlined. The minister also directed all Joint Working Groups JWG of CPEC to pursue their sector specific projects and initiate work on them immediately. As per initial plan, CPEC plan, the Special Economic Zones SEZs were supposed to be ready by 2020 but unfortunately, in last four years, there has been zero progress on SEZs, said the minister while adding that Interior Division should ensure the fool proof security of the Chinese in Pakistan. During the briefing, the minister directed the officials to complete Zhob-Quetta Road which was initiated under the CPEC project. The minister stressed that all line ministries and departments should divert their immediate attention towards SEZs and in this regard, all potential foreign direct investors are to be engaged as well to hear their perspective and needs which can be accounted in SEZs design. The minister also directed the officials to address the bottlenecks, especially in Early Harvest Projects, including infrastructure and energy projects.