LAHORE - Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms Prof Ahsan Iqbal said yesterday that Punjab had the smallest share in China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, as $35 billion out of the $44 billion of CPEC were allocated for energy sector including $11.5 billion for Sindh, $7.1 billion for Balochistan and only $6.9 billion for the Punjab province.

Speaking at a seminar on 'Different Facets of China-Pak Economic Corridor Project' organised jointly by Pakistan Institute of National Affairs (PINA) and University of Management and Technology (UMT) at a local hotel, Ahsan said CPEC was the part of China's 'One Road-One Belt' project.

On this occasion, Chinese Consul General in Lahore Yu Boren appreciated the organisers of the CPEC seminar and assured that China would continue to support the successful completion of the corridor.

Ahsan Iqbal said due to the CPEC, people of both the friendly countries would reap the fruits of common development and prosperity.

Balochistan government spokesman Anwarul Haq Kakar, PINA President Altaf Hassan Qureshi, UMT Rector Sohaib Hassan Murad and others also spoke on the occasion.

He refuted the rumours regarding the change of route of CPEC and Chinese investment in the construction of Karachi-Lahore Motorway. “The project is being completed on the basis of Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT),” he added.

The minister also said that the political stability and social harmony will attract foreign investment in the country. “CPEC serves as a game-changer in the region,” Iqbal claimed. Ahsan said completion of CPEC project will trigger massive foreign investment in the country.

The minister pointed out that priority had been given to the development of Gwadar Port and international airport under this mega project.

He said energy projects had been given emphasis in CPEC to meet the growing energy requirements of the country. Ahsan Iqbal said CPEC was not the name of a road, but the project will ensure greater regional economic integration through various projects. Development of road infrastructure will lead to economic activity in all areas of the country, especially the backward ones.

He said the missing links of the western route of CPEC will be completed by the end of this year, which will make it fully operational. The western route is being developed on modern lines; and initially, it will be a four-lane expressway.

Federal Minister for Planning clarified that there was no pre-decided or approved route in Pakistan under the CPEC while Pak-China Industrial Working Group had yet to be constituted, therefore, reports about any change in the CPEC route or shifting of industrial zones from the western route was baseless and misleading.

Ahsan Iqbal said the CPEC was being executed on the pattern through which the China had attained her developmental goals, and that pattern was based upon the principles. “No projects would be launched without having scientific planning; this is an enterprise and we (Chinese) will do it in steps/phases; we will take the easy path first.”

The federal minister said the CPEC was being developed on four pillars including development of the CPEC gateway city of Gawadar, to end the energy crisis in Pakistan, infrastructural/road network development and industrialisation. He elaborated that Gwadar city was being developed on modern lines so that it could facilitate the mega trade activities in future, and out of the USD 46 billion Chinese investment, USD 35 billion (77 percent) was being spent on energy projects on the IPP (independent power producer) mode with approval of the Nepra, while government had no discretion in utilising these funds. He added that projects of all energy resources including hydel, coal, solar, wind had been initiated across Pakistan.

Ahsan said that infrastructural and road network development was also being focused and all missing links were being constructed and work on all the CPEC routes- western, central and eastern- was underway expeditiously. Lahore- Karachi Motorway was not part of the CPEC and constructed under the BOT (Build, Operate and Transfer) and with the toll tax money however, China was providing concessional financing for its Multan-Sukkur section, he maintained.