ISLAMABAD: Beijing has reportedly acknowledged that Chinese companies in Pakistan opted for a “go-slow” policy due to delay in payment to the IPPs, rising exchange rate, and “unhelpful behaviour of the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) with its companies”.
This information has been shared by Chinese ambassador to Pakistan, Nong Rong, during a meeting with Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Coordination Syed Tariq Fatemi.
Fatemi, in a letter to fellow cabinet colleagues, has informed that as a follow-up to the Inter-Ministerial Meeting (IMM), chaired by the Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives on Friday, 16 December 2022, Chinese ambassador to Pakistan, called on him and discussed different issues.
According to Tariq Fatemi, during the course of discussion, the following points came under discussion: The SAPM recalled that the Minister for Planning had addressed a letter to his counterpart in the NDRC, and solicited ambassador’s intervention to expedite its response to the letter.
He apprised the ambassador that Pakistani authorities have already taken security measures in the Rashakai SEZ to ensure foolproof security arrangements for the Chinese nationals. These measures were not meant to hamper any development progress, but to ensure safety of the Chinese workers.
He underlined that the Pakistani relevant authorities have taken appropriate measures to protect Chinese grant projects, from anti-dumping duties. If they continue to face any problems, this may be brought to the notice of the Planning Minister.
Fatemi also conveyed to the ambassador that Pakistan’s Embassy in Beijing had been instructed to coordinate with the Chinese side on the issue of the establishment of Energy Revolving Account.
He solicited the ambassador’s assistance in early response from Sinosure for the financial closure of the Azad Pattan, Kohala and Thar coal projects, so as to enable Pakistan to swiftly move towards their construction phase, and also emphasized the importance of the ML-1 and KCR projects, and sought Ambassador’s views on the way forward. He also conveyed that the prime minister attached great importance to initiating work on these projects at the earliest. Consequently, a feedback from the Chinese side would be appreciated.
In response, the Chinese ambassador, while thanking the SAPM for sharing an update, conveyed that both Pakistan and China needed to follow up on the outcome of the prime minister’s visit to China, in an effective manner, including through the utilisation of the Joint Working Groups (JWGs), constituted under the CPEC framework.
He suggested there was a need to enhance communication between the focal points of the JWGs, and proposed that specific tasks/ deliverable may be identified, under each JWG, especially in the context of the Prime Minister’s visit to China.
Chinese envoy also acknowledged that the Planning Minister had addressed a letter to his counterpart in NDRC, which was also “a good way forward”. He mentioned that high-level communication between the two Planning Ministries would help follow up on the decisions taken during the high-level visit. He assured that that Chinese Embassy would reach out to the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other departments to expedite their response.
While noting the need to focus on modernizing agriculture and its associated industry, so as to generate employment and foreign exchange for Pakistan, the Ambassador suggested the establishment of a dedicated SEZ Authority to promote establishment of high quality Economic Zones in Pakistan. Such an Authority, he added, would be responsible for devising appropriate laws, policies and issue licenses to the investors in a timely fashion.
Recalling that President Xi has offered to deploy Chinese experts in Pakistan to help establish SEZs, the Ambassador underlined that it was a high time that Pakistan follow up on the outcome of that decision.
He also acknowledged that the Chinese companies have remained reluctant in making progress due to delayed payments to IPPs, rising exchange rate and Nepra’s “unhelpful behaviour towards the Chinese companies”. He also complained about delayed electricity connections to the Chinese companies in the Rashakai SEZ.
On the Gwadar power plant issue, the Chinese envoy highlighted that he was “misunderstood” in Pakistan on the issue. He underlined that power plant was “not” his project but that of Pakistan. He reiterated that the Gwadar power plant project was not only beneficial to China but also to Pakistan.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2022