October 07, 2019: Planning Minister Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiyar has vowed to take China-Pakistan Economic Corridor to new heights in coming days.
Addressing a news conference in Islamabad on Sunday, he dispelled the impression that CPEC projects have hit a snag as all projects under the corridor are intact and streamlined. He said in energy sector, projects of about 4,300 megawatts are under construction and of 2,500 megawatts are under planning.
The Minister said that the concessional agreement of 2016 was taken due to which 19 Chinese Companies are ready to invest in Gwadar.
He said a project of 300 megawatt of electricity has been completed in Gwadar, while grid connectivity is being ensured there to provide uninterrupted power supply.
He said the Prime Minister inaugurated Gwadar airport in March this year and we have also finalized the Gwadar Master Plan with the Balochistan Government.
Regarding energy requirement in Pakistan Khusro Bakhtiyar said efforts are being made for affordable electricity to strengthen economy.
He said we will negotiate with China on affordable electricity, including the proposal of constructing Bunji Dam with a capacity of 7,000 megawatts of electricity.
Commenting on steel sector, the Minister said Pakistan's current import bill in scrap and steel sector stands at two billion dollars and government's entire focus is on enhancing domestic production to curtail the import bill in this sector.
He said Pakistan's total steel production is about four million tons, whereas its requirement is about nine million tons which will likely to increase as the economy grows.
Keeping in view, he said, we will seek China's cooperation in enhancing capacity of Pakistan Steel Mills from existing one million to three million tons to meet the future demand of the commodity.
He said this will certainly reduce Pakistan's import bill in the steel sector.
On oil and gas sector, Khusro Bakhtiyar said we will negotiate with Chinese side to enhance capacity of Pakistan's refineries to reduce our import bill up to 1.5 bill dollars in this field.
In addition, we are going to propose a land based Liquefied Natural Gas project, which will enhance gas production capacity up to one billion cubic feet.
Khusro Bakhtiyar said the government is trying to complete the eastern corridor of CPEC by the end of this year and we are also working on the western route.
He said ML-1 project, which has been lying in the cold storage for last five years, will be formally taken up with Chinese authorities to revamp railways network in Pakistan. Regarding agriculture, the Minister said we are going to formally negotiate a comprehensive framework in the agriculture sector, proposing projects costing 200 million dollars under business to business cooperation.
He said fisheries and shrimp farming will be developed along the coastal belt under this framework.
Highlighting the industry incentives, the Minister said government is focusing on making the special economic zones functional and a business council has been formed to ensure joint ventures with China to increase Pakistan's industrial landscape.
He stressed the need on technology transfer from China to Pakistan.
He said Prime Minister Imran Khan, during his upcoming visit to China, will emphasise on giving a central place to science and technology transfer and human development.
He said seven pilot projects are being undertaken in all the four provinces, federal capital, Azad Kashmir, and Gilgit-Baltistan for programmes. He said progress is continuing in every avenue under the umbrella of CPEC. He said joint working group of all sectors, including energy, infrastructure, industrial cooperation, agriculture, Gwadar, and transportation will meet in October, while CPEC’s Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) meeting is expected in November this year. The Planning Minister said CPEC is not only a joint venture between Pakistan and China, but also an instrument of connectivity among Central Asia, Afghanistan, and all the way to Russia.