- Renowned economist Kaiser Bengali lashes out at incompetency of govt
- Bengali says feasibility report was never prepared by Pakistan
- Mushahid Hussain Syed says China could have chosen Iran or Myanmar for CPEC
- Syed stresses on the big picture of CPEC and says more and more countries are becoming a part of a ‘Greater South Asia’
KARACHI: Pakistan’s renowned economist Kaiser Bengali was amused to hear repeated praise of socialism from Chinese Council General in Karachi Wang Yu and later told him that socialism is a ‘dirty’ word in Pakistan, during a moot, “CPEC – Prospects, Challenges and Way Forward”, held here Thursday at National Institute of Management (NIM).
“Mr Wang Yu repeatedly praised socialism in his speech. I may tell him Socialism is considered a dirty word in Pakistan. People here may not be able to digest that socialism could bring such great changes in the society,” Bengali said.
Earlier, Yu literally showered praises repeatedly on ‘Socialism of Chinese Characteristics’ for the success of China. He also said that Pakistan and China have had helped each other in the past on different occasions and were iron brothers.
Bengali, although acknowledged Chinese for their immense progress in the international arena, however he was critical about CPEC and even said that a feasibility report, doing a cost and benefit analysis, was never prepared by Pakistan authorities. “No cost and benefit analysis has been done. Environmental impact of CPEC has also not assessed, which is mandatory by law,” Bengali said. “I have questioned many government officials about the duty distribution of the Gwadar Port but never got an answer. However, what I have come to know, is that Pakistan would receive only nine per cent from it.”
“It is the duty of our government to provide security to all the people coming to Pakistan either for work or tourism. All foreign people are our guest. However, if the expenses on security of those people, which will be borne by Pakistan, exceeds which would be received from that nine per cent duties then what is the use of CPEC for Pakistan?” questioned Bengali.
“I am not against CPEC and I don’t doubt China’s intention. But what I want to say is that we have not prepared properly for CPEC and not bargained well because of incompetency of our government,” he said. He also highlighted the issue that if Chinese products are offloaded in Pakistan in between Kashgar to Gwadar then it would destroy local industries.
He added that the money coming in Pakistan from China under the umbrella of CPEC was either loans or FDI and Pakistan would have to pay back as interest and profit respectively in dollar terms, increasing outflows. It would be a huge burden on Pakistan’s economy, which is already enduring a huge pressure on its deteriorating Balance of Payment (BOP).
Parliamentary Committee on CPEC Chairman Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed said that China could have chosen Iran or Myanmar instead of Pakistan to achieve what it has planned to do through CPEC.
“When US President Donald returned from a visit of China, a journalist described him as a humbled leader of a ‘declining’ super power,” Mushahid said. He added that China has become a hub of innovation and said that it possessed 202 super computers as compared to USA’s 143 super computers. “Shanghai has become New York.” He stressed on the big picture of CPEC and added that the concept of South Asia has been enhanced from few countries and now China and Central Asian countries have also become a part of a ‘Greater South Asia’.
Mushahid said that the inefficiency on government’s part should not be considered as the outcome of CPEC. “One cannot hold CPEC liable for inefficiency on the part of the government. If there is water shortage in Karachi or Gwadar, then it is not the outcome of CPEC. It has been the responsibility of the administration. CPEC will solve those problems in times to come,” he said. He said that no one was willing to invest in Pakistan either western countries or Middle East and it was China, which right away planned to invest $46.2 billion in Pakistan, which has now increased.
“I am also against culture of secrecy and all the information should be made public. We have to be transparent. Culture of secrecy is not the answer,” he said. Mushahid also criticised bureaucracy and elite class in Islamabad and asked them to shift their lenses to Asia. He alleged that Pakistan’s bureaucracy has been inclined towards the West and was unable to understand that 21st century belonged to Asia.
He said that Pakistan would observe a surge in cement production from 45 million tons in 2015 to 70 million tons in 2019. In 2015, Pakistan was producing 7.1 million tons and it would be producing 12 million tons in 2019. “Around 60,000 Pakistani people have been employed in CPEC related projects and another 22,000 Pakistani students are studying in China and out of that 5000 are studying on government scholarships,” he added.
He further said that China could be a market for our agricultural products. “Our dates are better than the Middle East’s dates. China could be our target market.”
He further said that CPEC consisted of a number of projects. The exact number was 39. There was a different feasibility for each of the project. There are FDIs and government’s soft loans, with an interest rate of 1.5 to 2 per cent. And then there are also grants (gift) from China.
Sindh Information Minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah, Peshawar Chamber of Commerce and Industries President Zahidullah Shinwari, Infrastructure Development and CPEC in Punjab Advisor Zahir Shah, Chamber of Commerce and Industries President Mufassar Ata Malik, District Council Gwadar Chairman Babu Ghulab and Sindh Abadgar Board Hyderabad Vice President Mehmood Nawaz Shah also spoke on the occasion.