ISLAMABAD: China is looking for rapid progress on a multi-million dollar railway line and a "grand opening" of a 392-kilometer highway from Multan to Sukkur soon, a high-level meeting has been said.
At a meeting held on Friday and chaired by the Minister of Planning and Development, Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtyar, the progress made in the projects included in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was reviewed and it was decided that the bottlenecks at their completion early would be removed by priority.
The minister said at the meeting that the $ 8.3 billion Rail Line Project from Karachi to Peshawar (ML-1) would be taken to the CPEC Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) at its meeting scheduled for November. He advised the price review committee on ML-1, led by the Vice President of the Planning Commission, to expedite its deliberations in accordance with the prime minister's directives.
The price review committee was recently established after the railroad ministry complained to the prime minister that the project faced obstacles due to the reluctance of senior government officials to move forward in price negotiations for fear of responsibility in the future, the sources said.
Minister says the government wants to accelerate the implementation of CPEC projects
In view of the concern expressed by Chinese officials, the prime minister had ordered the committee to quickly complete its work on the project and report directly to it to share responsibility for the decisions made.
Due to the huge cost estimate of more than $ 8.2 billion under Chinese loans, the authorities decided to divide the project into three phases, beginning with the first phase that is estimated to cost around $ 3 billion to ensure that the External debt remain on the lower side. The first phase proposed involves four sections of 183 km, 120 km, 132 km and 118 km, with a goal of completion of three years.
An official statement quoted the planning and development minister as saying that the government wanted a new impetus to accelerate the pace of implementation of CPEC projects.
The sources said that the planning and communications ministries were coordinating a smooth opening of the Sukkur-Multan highway next week, but the Chinese side insisted on a high-level inauguration & # 39; because the $ 2.9 billion project was the largest infrastructure scheme to be completed. under the CPEC so far. The sources said the Chinese embassy was coordinating with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for a grand opening ceremony of the 392km project.
The meeting was also informed that payments to Chinese investors of energy projects were smooth to the extent of 90 percent and that efforts were being made to guarantee timely payments of 100 pieces in December.
The meeting was attended by the Vice President of the Planning Commission, Dr. Jehanzeb Khan, secretaries of several ministries and senior representatives of the provincial governments.
Mr. Bakhtyar ordered the relevant authorities to further improve coordination among stakeholders in the implementation of CPEC projects to ensure the sustained elevation of the country, particularly through the development of social sectors.
The secretary of power said at the meeting that the Chinese side would present a study on the supply and demand of CPEC energy projects in October. It was decided that the study would be presented at the next meeting of the Joint Working Group and would be a result for the next JCC meeting.
The National Electric Power Regulatory Authority informed the meeting that it had issued the rate for Port Qasim on September 16, while the law ministry would move a summary to establish appellate courts to resolve tariff issues related to energy projects.
Regarding the Lahore Orange Line project, it was reported that civil works in the water and sewer facilities would be completed on time. On the Gwadar Eastbay Expressway project, it was noted that it would be on the agenda of the next Ecnec meeting and the Chinese side had confirmed additional loans for it.
Posted on Dawn, September 28, 2019