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Long-term plan for CPEC will be approved by JCC: Ahsan Iqbal

26 October, 2017

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ISLAMABAD: Minister for Interior and Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal has said that a long-term plan for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will be approved by the Joint Cooperation Council (JCC) at its meeting scheduled for Nov 21 in Beijing.

The minister announced this while presiding over a meeting held here on Wednesday to review implementation of the ongoing CPEC projects and preparations for the future projects to be made part of the long-term plan.

He directed all the stakeholders and provincial governments to firm up their projects and explore further options of mutual interest to be taken up at 7th JCC meeting.

This is the same long-term plan that Mr Iqbal had said would be finalised during the One Belt, One Road summit in May. When pressed by some media organisations after Dawn had published a report about the plan, he promised that it would be made public once it was finalised. When asked by Dawn on Wednesday night whether or not the plan would be made public following its approval by the JCC in November, the minister said: “Yes.”

The 51st progress review meeting on CPEC projects was attended by senior officials of line ministries and representatives of provincial governments, Federally Administered Tribal Areas, Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir and officials of the Chinese Embassy in Islamabad, including chargé d’affaires Zhao Lijian.

The JCC is the apex decision-making forum on the CPEC that is jointly chaired by the planning and development minister and the vice chairman of National Development and Reform Commission of China.

The meeting was informed about some obstacles to the Karachi Circular Railway project by the Sindh government. Mr Iqbal directed the Ministry of Railways to resolve all outstanding issues relating to the project within a week. The railways ministry was also directed to streamline work on the Mainline One (ML-I) project and finalise its financial arrangements at the earliest.

Reviewing the progress of special economic zones (SEZs), the minister asked the provinces to complete feasibility studies of their respective SEZs by the first week of November in order to get tangible outcomes with respect to industrial cooperation.

The Board of Investment was directed to review the feasibility studies so as to resolve any outstanding issue and ensure uniformity in the development pattern. The board was also advised to undertake reforms for transforming the body into a modern investment agency to meet expectations of foreign investors.

The meeting expressed satisfaction over the recent visit of a Chinese industrial expert group and hoped that their guidance would benefit the provinces and regions.

The minister said that relocation of labour-intensive industry from China would benefit Pakistan to seize opportunities for bolstering the local industry as it would create 85 million jobs.

He said the Chinese side had been asked to fast-track implementation of projects in Gwadar and announced that the prime minister would soon perform the groundbreaking of Gwadar airport and 300MW coal-fired power plant.

Besides the power plant, the electricity transmission and evacuation project for Gwadar was also under implementation to facilitate the entire Makran coastal belt, the meeting was informed.

An official of the Gwadar Development Authority briefed the meeting on fresh water facility projects and said that more than 55 per cent work on pipeline installation had been completed, besides construction of Swad and Shadi Kaur dams.

The minister directed that all efforts be made to accelerate work on the 5MGD (million gallons per day) water desalination plant in Gwadar. He asked the Ministry of Communications to arrange groundbreaking of road projects linking the CPEC western route, including Jhand-Kohat Expressway and dualisation of Indus Highway, from Kohat to Ghambeela.

He called for speeding up the process of three road projects, including KKH (remaining portion), D.I. Khan to Zhob and Khuzdar to Basima, saying that financial agreement on them would be signed at the 7th JCC meeting. He laid emphasis on completing feasibility and other formalities of Gilgit-Shandur-Chitral-Chakdara and Naukundi-Mashkhel-Panjgaur roads coinciding with the JCC meeting.

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