ISLAMABAD: China, Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has brought about substantial changes to Pakistan’s socio-economic development over the past five years, said Chinese ambassador Yao Jing. This is a part of China’s standing policy help the country improving living conditions of its people., he said in an interview with Chinese major news network, Xinhua.
China and Pakistan have joined hands in building a closer community of shared future in the new era against the backdrop of changing international landscapes, Chinese Ambassador Yao Jing said. “The Closer China-Pakistan Community of Shared Future in the New Era is a concrete measure taken by leaders of the two countries as per the concept of building a new type of international relations and a community of a shared future for all mankind,” he added.
The closer community of shared future in the new era is based on mutual trust, friendship and amity, as well as shared interests and political consensus reached between the two countries and two peoples on the Belt and Road Initiative and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the ambassador said. CPEC, a major pilot project of the China-proposed Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, is connecting the Gwadar port in southwestern Pakistan with Kashgar in west China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. During Prime Minister Khan’s visit to China in April, the two countries signed a deal on the first industrial park and future industrial cooperation.
Under a Memorandum of Understanding inked between China and Pakistan to improve people’s livelihood, the two neighbors signed 27 projects on agriculture, education, healthcare, water resources, vocational training and poverty alleviation, Yao said. “By meeting Pakistani people’s needs, the China-Pakistan cooperation will bring more tangible benefits to Pakistanis,” he said.As part of the international cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative, CPEC should be instrumental to regional cooperation, interconnectivity and common development, the Chinese envoy pointed out. A third party will be invited to participate in the next phase development of CPEC, he added. The first meeting of the CPEC International Cooperation Coordination Working Group was held in Beijing in April to build CPEC as a platform for regional cooperation, development and prosperity.
Fostering people-to-people’s bonds always remained as a priority of the Belt and Road cooperation between China and Pakistan, according to Yao.”The China-donated Faqeer Primary School in Gwadar has become one of the best local schools, where students have increased to nearly 500 from 150 over the past five years,” he said. “China also helped build a medical center in Gwadar which has provided health services for the local people,” the ambassador added, noting that vocational training institutes were set up in Quetta and Lahore to help address youth employment in Pakistan. In recent years, civic groups, training schools and local institutions across the country have been seeking exchanges and cooperation with China in education, culture and sports, Yao said.
“The Belt and Road Initiative has yielded such appealing results that the Pakistani people have been getting increasingly enthusiastic about participating in the Chinese projects and agreeing with the Chinese concepts,” he added. Earlier, The government has proposed an allocation of Rs83 billion for the CPEC projects in the next budget, which appears insufficient due to inclusion of more schemes in the CPEC portfolio that has now ballooned to Rs1.3 trillion. The PTI government has decided to include five more CPEC-related projects in the PSDP 2019-20, according to officials of the Ministry of Planning and Development.
It has made first phase of the delayed Mainline-I project of Pakistan Railways part of the PSDP, they added. The total cost of this scheme is estimated at Rs324.6 billion but the government has made an allocation of only Rs1 billion in the next budget, starting July.
Gwadar’s water treatment plant project will again remain underfunded in the next fiscal year despite the urgent need to complete the project on priority. The Rs83-billion allocation is spread over 23 ongoing and unapproved projects initiated under the umbrella of Beijing’s strategic initiative. The total cost of CPEC projects has increased to Rs1.3 trillion, of which Rs524 billion has already been spent in the past three years.
The remaining financing for these projects is estimated at Rs734 billion, according to the Ministry of Planning officials. “The proposed allocation for CPEC projects is sufficient to meet financing needs in the next fiscal year,” said Hasan Daud, spokesman of the planning ministry. For the next fiscal year 2019-20, the PTI government has proposed Rs675 billion for federal development spending. Nearly 19% of the proposed size of the PSDP will be spent in discretionary mode including Rs24 billion on schemes recommended by members of parliament.— News Desk