ISLAMABAD: Parliamentary Committee on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) expressed dissatisfaction over the snail’s pace in progress on the New Gwadar International Airport, and remarked that the procrastination in provision of facilities to Gwadar which is deemed to compete with Dubai and Chahbahar port vehemently cripples economic activities there.
The Committee met (in-camera) with MNA Sher Ali Arbab in the chair at the Parliament House on Wednesday.
The Committee was briefed by secretary Ministry of Defence, secretary Aviation Division, secretary Board of Investment, secretary Ministry of Petroleum Division, secretary Ministry of Communications, additional secretary Ministry of Planning, Development and Special Initiatives, additional secretary Ministry of Interior, joint secretary Power Division, chairman National Highways Authority, secretary Ministry of Industries, Government of KP, secretary industries Government of Balochistan, CEO KPEZDMC, CEO FIEDMC, CEO PESCO, managing director SSGC, and the managing director, SNGPL, regarding Sust Border management framework, progress on New Gwadar International Airport, the updated progress on infrastructure development of four prioritized Special Economic Zones under the CPEC (Rashakai KP, Allama Iqbal Industrial City Faislabad, Dhabeji Sindh, and Bostan Quetta), and Gwadar Fencing Project.
The Committee Chairman said, “Pakistan cannot have a prosperous Gwadar without having fully functional international airport there. It is, therefore, vital to take up the issue of its delay at the highest forum and expedite the process of its completion.”
The secretary, Ministry of Defence, briefed the Committee on Gwadar Fencing Project.
He apprised that the project is primarily aimed at making Gwadar city a “weapon free zone” and to create enabling environment for trade and business.
He said that the project started on 4th December, 2020.
However, owing to reservations expressed by various segments of the society, it was temporarily halted on 29th December, 2020, he said.
He said that the government of Balochistan had also constituted a Committee comprising local notables, elected representatives and civil administration for suggesting a way forward for the project.
He said that as soon as the consensus was evolved, the work on the project would be resumed at a high speed.
The Committee recommended that MNA/senator from Gwadar may also be included in that Committee, and apprehensions and reservations of local people pertaining to Gwadar Fencing Project should also be allayed to stave off the alienation of locals from the development of Gwadar under the CPEC framework.
The Committee members said that a pragmatic and holistic approach should be pursued with regard to the security measures being taken at Gwadar to beget a conducive environment for facilitating trade and investment there.
During briefing on Sust Border management framework, the Committee remarked that the world is increasingly moving towards complex economic interdependence.
In 21st Century, trade, commerce, investment and connectivity are Pakistan’s strategic interests.
The Committee recommended to the quarters concerned to decide about the lead ministry, which will regulate border’s management framework, come up with viable proposals to open Sust border for whole year and shrug off all the odds and challenges faced at the border, so that seamless regulation of trade and economic activities could take place there.
The Committee sought the compliance on its previous recommendation regarding implementation of Axle Load Policy, and expressed the concern that inability to implement Axle Load Policy in true letter and spirit is causing massive financial loss in billions of rupees in terms of road maintenance and repairing.
The overloaded vehicles are causing exponential damages to road infrastructure in Pakistan.
The Committee observed that there was an exigency of establishing the strongest coordination among all the quarters concerned, and directed the Ministry of Communications to ensure the implementation of axle load limit after consulting with all the major stakeholders, so that the trade could be regulated smoothly and damages to road infrastructure could be prevented.
The Committee expressed satisfaction over the pace of work on infrastructure development of Rashakai KP and Allama Iqbal Industrial City, Faisalabad, and noted that securing investment of billions of rupees in these Special Economic Zones (SEZs) is a landmark development.
The Committee remarked that the CPEC has potential prospects of ushering new era of economic development and lasting prosperity for the people of Pakistan and its success hinges upon the effective and timely operation of all the SEZs.
Provision of utilities to all the SEZs has been top priority of the Committee; therefore, no compromise will be tolerated on the part of undue delay in provision of utilities to the SEZs.
The Committee directed to take all the measures to catch maximum investment in the SEZs, and further expedite the process of provision of all ancillary facilities to the SEZs.
The Committee deferred briefing on Dhabeji SEZ due to absence of CEO, Dhabeji, Sindh and after observing slow progress on Bostan SEZ, decided to convene a special meeting on updated progress on infrastructure development of Bostan SEZ by coming Wednesday.
The meeting was attended by MNAs Noor Alam Khan, Umer Aslam Khan, Mir Khan Muhammad Jamali, Nafeesa Inayatullah Khan Khattak, Ahsan Iqbal Chaudhry, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, Murtaza Javed Abbasi, Mehnaz Akber Aziz, and MNA Zahid Akram Durrani.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021