ISLAMABAD: Minister for Planning and Development and Interior Ahsan Iqbal on Wednesday expressed satisfaction over the progress of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects across the country adding that the 7th Joint Coordination Committee on CPEC would further strengthen bilateral cooperation under CPEC framework.
He said during the JCC meeting, scheduled on November 21, long term plan would be approved.
He 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 meeting.
Ahsan Iqbal was chairing the 51st Progress Review Meeting of CPEC projects that 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.
It is pertinent to highlight that JCC is the apex decision making forum of CPEC projects that is jointly chaired by Minister for Planning, Development & Reform and Vice Chairman National Development & Reform Commission (NDRC) China.
While reviewing the progress of Special Economic Zones (SEZs), the minister instructed the provinces to complete the feasibility studies of their respective SEZs by first week of November in order to enable tangible outcomes with respect to industrial cooperation.
He asked the Board of Investment (BoI) to review the feasibility studies so as to resolve any outstanding issue and ensure uniformity in the development pattern.
He also advised BoI to undertake reforms for transforming the body into a modern investment agency.
The minister also 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 labor intensive from China would benefit Pakistan to seize opportunities for bolstering local industry and subsequent recreation of millions of jobs”, he added “saying that the relocation of industry from China would create 85 million employment opportunities”.
The minister said the Chinese side has been emphasized to fast track implementation of Gwadar projects highlighting that ground breaking of New Gwadar International Airport and Gwadar 300 MW 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 of 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 Iqbal asked the Ministry of Communications to arrange ground breaking of road projects linking CPEC western route including Jhand—Kohat Expressway and dualization 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 the 7th JCC meeting.
He further laid emphasis on completing feasibility and other formalities of Gilgit—Shandur—Chitral—Chakdara and Naukundi—Mashkhel—Panjgaur roads coinciding with the 7th JCC.
He instructed the Ministry of Railways to streamline work on Mainline One (ML-I) project asking that financial arrangement be finalized at the earliest.
Addressing the issue by representative of Sindh Government on Karachi Circular Railway (KCR), minister instructed the Ministry of Railways that all outstanding matters in this regard be resolved within one week.
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 the 7th JCC.
The Minister said that the 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.