- Khalid Mansoor tells Senate Standing Committee on Planning, Development and Special Initiatives that Chinese investment companies are facing issues
Islamabad: Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on CPEC Affairs Khalid Mansoor told Senate Standing Committee on Planning, Development and Special Initiatives that comparative bidding has to be held for ML-1 Railway project (Karachi-Lahore-Peshawar).
Senate Standing Committee on Planning, Development and Special Initiatives met with Senator Saleem Mandviwalla in the chair at the Parliament House, on Thursday.
Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives, Asad Umar also attended the meeting.
The committee discussed in detail the development projects under the CPEC.
While briefing the Committee, Mansoor said that China estimated $9 billion cost of ML-1 Railway project, while the Ministry of Railway of Pakistan estimated $6 billion cost.
He said that there is need to gauge confidence of Chinese companies for investment in the country.
The SAPM told the Committee that only $50 million have been disbursed out of $1billion grant for 27 socio-economic development projects as given by Chinese government.
Four years ago, China has given $1 billion grant to Pakistan socio-economic development projects.
To a question, Mansoor told the Committee that it is true that the Chinese investment companies are facing issues and we have to restore their confidence. He said that 40 Chinese companies have contacted him for investment.
Committee Chairman Senator Saleem Mandviwalla said, “The Chinese ambassador met him and he expressed serious concerns over problems faced by the Chinese companies in Pakistan. The Chinese ambassador says, I don’t understand where we go for resolving problems. When we go to the ministries, no one responds to them, the ambassador says.”
Mandviwalla said, “There was zero progress on the CPEC projects during the last three years.” He expressed his concern over the proposals and recommendations of the committee on various development projects at provincial and federal levels, which were not being considered.
The chairman Committee reiterated that the Senate recommendations and proposals should be considered, otherwise, it is a futile exercise by the Committee.
Umar informed the chairman that the final approval of the PSDP projects is given by the NEC.”The National Economic Council (NEC) approval is final.”
The minister informed the committee that 31st March next year is the last date for any project to be taken to the NEC.
The chairman Committee gave directions that for the coming year, the Committee will pre-plan the project required federally and provincially and send their final proposals before February.
Senator Shafeeq Tareen expressed his concern on the approval process of provincial projects, which can only be approved if the chief minister gives it a go ahead.
The minister informed the Committee that the provincial projects cannot be laid on our table, unless approved by the PDWP, to be further approved by the NEC.
The Special Assistant informed the Committee that an overview committee on the development projects of Balochistan headed by MNA Khalid Magsi has been constituted and has representations of all political parties, to which Senator Shafiq Tareen disagreed.
The chairman Committee sought list of the members of the overview committee.
While briefing the committee on the financial and physical progress of all major CPEC projects, the committee was informed that 21 projects amounting to $15.7 billion are completed out of which are 10 power projects (5,320MW) and HVDC transmission line cost $9.6 billion. Five infrastructure projects (roads, mass transit and optical fibber) amounting to $5.8 billion. Two Gwadar Port/Free Zone and City Master Plan cost $0.3 billion.
The Special Assistant said that 21 projects amounting to $9.3 billion are under-implementation and 27 projects amounting to $28.4 billion are under consideration.
While discussing the under implementation project he said, “Necessary Facilities of Fresh Water Treatment and Supply” in Gwadar financed through the PSDP costing $130 million, is 60 percent complete.
Pak-China Friendship Hospital at Gwadar and Technical and Vocational Institute at Gwadar financed by GRANT is 90 percent and 10 percent completed respectively.
While discussing the under-consideration projects of $ 28.4bn, Senator Sardar Shafiq Tareen said that coal resources of Balochistan should also be utilised for power plants, to which the Special Assistant replied that as coal from Balochistan is rich in sulphur; therefore, it is not feasible.
Commenting on Bostan Economic Zone, Senator Sardar Shafiq showed resentment that despite being the only zone of the province and very important on account of its location being very near to Chaman, Bostan Zone is being ignored and there is nothing done, which can be seen on ground.
The SAPM on CPEC Affairs replied that they have coordinated with the chief secretary Balochistan in this regard and progress could be seen.
Senator Sardar Shafiq Tareen also raised the issue of construction of new bypass to be built at Muslimbagh on Kuchlak to Zhob road.
He also pointed out that construction of Muslimbagh to Zhob road has not been started as yet, on which the SAPM replied that a case is sub-judice.
Raising questions on railway project, Senator Sardar Shafiq Tareen commented that Quetta-Zhob-Kotla Jaam railway line is too short and must be prioritised.
The chairman Committee also recommended prioritising this project.
The Special Assistant informed the committee that all the under-consideration projects are at initial stage.
The chairman Committee sought a report on the progress on these projects and reasons obstructing their implementation.
The Committee chairman also decided to hold the next meeting at Gwadar in the mid of October.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021