ISLAMABAD -  Federal Minister for Planning, Development & Reform and Interior Ahsan Iqbal has said that the CPEC long term plan would be approved in the 7th Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) meeting scheduled on November 21.

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The minister directed all stakeholders and provincial governments to firm-up their projects and explore further options of mutual interest to be taken up in the 7th JCC. The minister expressed these views while chairing the 51st Progress Review Meeting of CPEC projects, which was attended by high-level officials of line ministries, representatives of all provincial governments, FATA, Gilgit-Baltistan, Azad Jammu & Kashmir, and officials of Chinese Embassy Islamabad including chargé d'affaires Zhao Lijian.  

The JCC is the apex decision-making forum of the CPEC projects that is jointly chaired by Minister for Planning, Development & Reform and Vice Chairman National Development & Reform Commission (NDRC) China.

Addressing the issue by the representative of Sindh government on Karachi Circular Railway (KCR), the minister instructed the Ministry of Railways that all outstanding matters in this regard would be resolved within one week.

He instructed the Ministry of Railway to streamline work on Mainline One (ML-I) project asking that financial arrangement be finalised at the earliest.

While reviewing the progress of Special Economic Zones (SEZs), the minister instructed the provinces to complete feasibility studies of their respective SEZs by first week of November to enable tangible outcomes with respect to industrial cooperation. He asked the BoI to review the feasibility studies so as to resolve any outstanding issue and ensure uniformity in the development pattern. He also advised the BoI to undertake reforms for transforming the body into a modern investment agency. The minister expressed satisfaction over the recent visit of Chinese industrial expert group and hoped that their guidance would benefit the provinces and regions.

“The relocation of labour intensive from China would benefit Pakistan to seize opportunities for bolstering local industry and subsequent recreation of millions of jobs,” he added, saying: “relocation of industry from China would create 85 million employment opportunities”.

The minister said that the Chinese side has been emphasised to fast track implementation of Gwadar projects highlighting that ground-breaking of New Gwadar International Airport and Gwadar 300MW coal fired power plant would be inaugurated soon by the Prime Minister.

Besides power plant, electricity transmission and evacuation project for Gwadar is under implementation to facilitate the entire Makran coastal belt. During the meeting, representative Gwadar Development Authority (GDA) briefed about fresh water facility projects informing that more than 55 per cent of work on pipeline installation has been done besides construction of Swad and Shadi Kaur Dam. The minister instructed that all efforts be ensured for accelerating work on 5.0 MGD water desalination plant.

Ahsan asked the Ministry of Communications to arrange ground-breaking of road projects linking CPEC Western route including Jhand—Kohat Expressway and dualisation of Indus Highway from Kohat to Ghambeela. In addition, he stressed on speeding up the process of three road projects, including KKH (remaining portion), D.I.Khan to Zhob and Khuzdar to Basima adding that financial agreement be signed during 7th JCC. He further laid emphasis on completing feasibility and other formalities of Gilgit—Shandur—Chitral—Chakdara and Naukundi—Mashkhel—Panjgaur roads coinciding with 7th JCC.

Referring to the availability of electricity to Gilgit-Baltistan, Ahsan Iqbal directed Ministry of Energy (Power Division) that already identified potential power projects for Gilgit-Baltistan be expedited for approval of 7th JCC. The minister said that 7th JCC meeting would further deepen mutual cooperation between the two countries under the framework of CPEC and would pave a clear way for Pakistan to enter the phase of industrial cooperation.