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ISLAMABAD: Senate Thursday passed the government’s China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Authority Bill 2021, which seeks to establish CPEC Authority, amidst strong protest by the opposition that staged a walkout against the “unannounced arrival of the bill” in the House.

At the Senate session presided over by Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani, the treasury members moved the CPEC Authority Bill 2021 in the supplementary agenda as the presentation of the bill was not part of Senate’s original agenda.

This drew strong ire of the opposition senators who accused the treasury of not taking them into confidence before moving the bill in the Senate.

Advisor to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Dr Babar Awan tried to present the bill but the opposition’s furore did not allow him to go ahead.

Taking the floor, Leader of the Opposition in Senate Yousaf Raza Gillani criticised the treasury members “for bringing this important bill at the last moment—in supplementary agenda.”

He said “We are well aware of the cordial relations with our brotherly state of China and this is a very important bill— but bringing this bill in Senate in such a hasty manner is just not acceptable. This bill is moved at a time when several senators have left the House.”

Gilani insisted that the bill be presented in Senate in Friday’s (today’s) session.

Earlier, Leader of the House in Senate Dr Shahzad Waseem urged the House to pass the CPEC Authority Bill 2021, saying the “future of Pakistan hinges on this crucial bill.”

Science and Technology Minister Shibli Faraz too requested the House to “pass this bill on urgent basis.”

The opposition senators strongly protested for not being taken into confidence ahead of presentation of the bill and staged a walkout under the leadership of Gillani.

In the absence of the opposition senators, chairman Senate asked Faraz to present the bill that was eventually passed by the House.

The bill was passed by National Assembly on February 1 this year. After passage by Senate, the bill required to be signed into law by President Arif Alvi.

The CPEC Authority Bill 2021 seeks to establish CPEC Authority to “further accelerate the pace of CPEC-related activities. It aims to find new drivers of economic growth, unlock the potential of interlinked production network and global value chains through regional and global connectivity. Furthermore, it would develop sound and implementable public policy by integrating advice of stakeholders in decision-making process and utilisation of all available resources to achieve optimal results and for effective and efficient management in line with the Memorandum of Understanding between the National Development and Reform Commission of the People’s Republic of China and the Ministry of Planning Development and Special Initiatives of Islamic Republic of Pakistan on Outline of the Long Term Plan of CPEC signed in Beijing on November 8, 2014,” according to the bill’s Statement of Objects and Reasons.

“The Authority would be responsible for planning, facilitating, coordinating, monitoring and evaluating to ensure implementation of all activities related to CPEC, ensuring inter-provincial and inter-ministerial coordination; organising and coordinating meetings of Joint Coordination Committee and Joint Working Groups; conducting sectoral research for informed decision-making and long-term planning; monitoring and evaluation and to ensure implementation beside narrative- building and communication of CPEC and other related activities from time to time,” it says.

Meanwhile, responding to a Calling Attention Notice moved by Nuzhat Sadiq from Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) regarding exclusion of Chinese vaccines from the list of vaccines approved by the Saudi authorities for pilgrims, due to which a large number of Pakistanis, who have received Chinese vaccines, will not be able to travel to Saudia Arabia this year for performing Hajj and Umrah, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan said the matter has been taken up with the Saudi authorities and it would be resolved soon. He said Saudi Arabia has not yet issued Hajj quota for Pakistani pilgrims.

The minister said the federal government is effectively dealing with coronavirus, adding that there is no shortage of ventilators for the patients.

The opposition also staged a walkout against the “attitude of chairman IRSA” and non-appointment of members from Balochistan in the board of directors of different state-owned entities.

Raza Rabbani from Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) said three IRSA (Indus River System Authority) members; from Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan opposed the opening of TP Link Canal in a recent meeting but chairman IRSA opened the TP Link Canal on the recommendation of one IRSA member; from Punjab.

The House would meet today (Friday) at 11 am.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021


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