ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Planning has clarified a news item published in a section of press regarding delays in the implementation of China Pakistan Economic Corridor projects.
A ministry spokesman clarified that none of the CPEC projects were facing delay; rather Pakistan and China are agreed on the future trajectory of the CPEC and timely completion of its ongoing projects.
He said the successful 8th joint cooperation committee meeting laid the foundation for the expansion of CPEC to new heights, adding that more joint efforts are underway, focusing on socio-economic, industrial and agricultural development.
“A memorandum of understanding on the formation of a joint working group on socio-economic development and another on poverty alleviation was signed during Prime Visit Imran Khan’s visit to China in November this year,” the spokesman informed. “A visit from the Chinese socio-economic development expert team is scheduled to take place during the last week of this month to finalize the projects and its sites in the already agreed six areas, including health, education, water supply, vocational training, poverty alleviation and agriculture.”
Recognising the significance of Gwadar as an important node in cross-regional connectivity and the central pillar of CPEC, Pakistan and China have agreed to expedite the progress on the port and its auxiliary projects, he said.
“Groundbreaking of new Gwadar airport, vocational institute and hospital are planned in the 1st quarter of this year, while Gwadar master plan is in the final stages of formulation. Huge investments are expected in the petrochemical sector in Gwadar,” he added.
The spokesman said Pakistan and China have expedited work on industrial cooperation under CPEC and the government has fast-tracked the development of economic zones by prioritising Rashakai, Dhabajhi, Faisalabad and ICT SEZs with a vision to make 2019 a year of industrial development.
He further said that both the countries have also expedited cooperation in the field of agriculture with a special focus on enhancing cooperation in the areas of climate change, desertification control, desalination, water management, afforestation and ecological restoration, wetland protection and restoration, wildlife protection, forestry development, disaster management and risk reduction, as well as other areas of mutual interest. “A sub-group has been elevated to a full-fledged joint working group and its meeting is planned to be held in the first quarter of this year.”
He said the government is committed to developing hydro energy projects and more projects based on indigenous sources are being added to CPEC portfolio.
“Process has been initiated to prepare an integrated plan in line with SEZs development aimed at facilitating logistics and transportation for the zones,” he stated. “It has been decided to complete the modalities for all weather opening of Karakorum Highway in Khunjrab. ML-1 designs and scope are being firmed up jointly.”
He said the government has prioritised the implementation of the western route project with a focus to expedite development of D I Khan-Zhob and Zhob-Quetta sections in order to ensure uplift of less developed areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.
“The completion of two projects of CPEC – Peshawar-Karachi Motorway (Multan-Sukkur) and KKH Phase II (Thakot -Havelian) – was scheduled for August 2019 and March 2020 respectively but both the projects are expected to be completed ahead of their schedules,” he concluded.