The Parliamentary Committee on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) met on Thursday with Chairman Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed in the chair. The chairman briefed the members and presented a report about his recent visit to China which took place during May 21-27.
The members appreciated the invitation from the Chinese government to the Parliamentary Committee and also expressed their praise for the positive work that the committee undertook during its visit to China.
The meeting also congratulated Senator Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo, member of the Parliamentary Committee, on his assumption of office of Minister for Ports and Shipping and expressed the hope that under his leadership, the Gwadar Port project will take off in the near future.
The minister for Ports and Shipping as well as the Gwadar Port Authority chairman and the Ministry of Ports and Shipping secretary gave a comprehensive update and briefing on the development work pertaining to Gwadar port. They informed the Committee that the Gwadar International Airport was being constructed at a cost of $260 million, which is a grant from the Chinese government. They said that this would be an airport of international standards capable of handling the largest of passenger planes including the A380 Boeing Jet.
Additionally, the Chinese government has given a grant of $10 million dollars for building the Pakistan-China Vocational and Technical Training Institute which will be helping the local population of Gwadar getting skills and employment. The GPA chairman also informed that the water problem of Gwadar is being sorted out with the construction of Sawad dam where water will be provided to Gwadar through a 83 km pipeline.
A briefing was also given on the various financial incentives being provided to potential investors in the Special Economic Zone of Gwadar as a result of which there was growing interests among investors both in Pakistan and abroad for investment in the Special Economic Zone. With these new incentives, the Gwadar port has also being activated and 3 new ships will arrive from China, bringing construction material will arrive in July 2016.
Regarding the provision of electricity for Gwadar, the Committee was informed by the Ministry of Water and Power that as a result of an agreement with an Iranian company, an additional 100 MG of electricity will be available for Gwadar by the end of 2017.
Speaking on the occasion, Parliamentary Committee Chairman Senator Mushahid Hussain said that during the visit to China, he underlined that the Parliamentary Committee, in its working, was guided by three key principles, namely, consensus through consultation with all political parties and provinces, transparency in projects and decision making and inclusive development, with a focus on implementation in letter and spirit of the decisions taken at the All-Parties Conference held at the Prime Minister’s House on May 28, 2015.
Among these decisions, building of the Western route on priority basis was agreed unanimously by all the leaders and political parties, plus the rapid development of Gwadar port while ensuring that the rights of the citizens of Gwadar are fully protected.
‘FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION’:
Senator Mushahid Hussain also referred to his recent participation and speech on CPEC at the Silk Road Forum organised in Warsaw, Poland to promote connectivity between Europe and Asia and he said that there was clear consensus that the CPEC was the centre-piece of the ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative of Chinese President Xi Jinping. Hence, failure is not an option and ‘the people of Pakistan are unwavering in their determination to construct the CPEC as it is in the interest of Pakistan and its prople.
He said that in line with the work plan of the committee, it already had interaction with provinces of Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan. Now the Parliamentary Committee will interact with the government of Punjab during July 21-23, which will include a briefing by the Punjab chief minister as well as visits to the Sahiwal Power project and Bahawalpur solar project.
The NHA chairman briefed the committee in detail regarding the progress being made on the Western route which, he said, would be completed by August 2018. Work on it was already underway at different segments and this would be initially be a modern 4-lane highway which would eventually be upgraded to a 6-lane motorway, for which planning was underway.
Allocations have already been made and construction is already underway on fast track on the Western route which, the NHA chairman underlined, would be completed a year earlier than the Eastern route since priority was being accorded to the Western route in accordance with the decision of the All Parties conference of May 28, 2015 as well as the directive of the prime minister issued in January to construct the Western route on priority.
The committee directed the Ministry of Planning and Development to prepare a projection of requirement for electricity for Gwadar and Balochistan as a whole. After hearing detailed arguments, the committee unanimously directed that given the track record of FWO in the construction of roads in which difficult terrain of Balochistan as well as difficult security situation is involved, the FWO should continue working on the project.
The meeting concluded with a vote of thanks to the chair. Members who attend the meeting included Senator Lt Gen (r) Salahuddin Tirmizi, Senator Baz Mohammad Khan, Senator Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo, Ghous Bux Mahar, Rana Mohammad Afzal, Mir Ijaz Jhakrani and Parliamentary Committee Secretary Khalid Mehmood.