ISLAMABAD: Despite surfacing objections from the Chinese side on taxation and banking sectors for signing the Long-Term Plan next week, Prime Minister Shahid Khakan Abbasi has granted approval for inclusion of a dozen fresh projects as part of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)’s agenda of upcoming Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) meeting, including much-awaited Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) with an estimated cost of $2.07 billion.
According to the official agenda, the JCC between Pakistan and China is scheduled to meet in Islamabad on November 20 and 21, 2017.
On pattern of Chinese model, the senior officials meeting (SOM) will take place on Monday (tomorrow) and after ironing out differences, the JCC will formally meet on Tuesday (Nov 21) for signing of almost a dozen fresh projects for making part of CPEC with jacking up overall cost to $50 billion.
The signing of Long-Term Plan (LTP-2014-2030) is part of upcoming JCC agenda but official circles say that its evolutionary process as the draft shared by Pakistani side resulted into surfacing some “points” from Chinese side especially related to facilitation regarding Customs and State Bank of Pakistan for finalising mode of cooperation for payments related to trade transactions. Hassan Daud, Planning Commission’s Deputy Project Director at the CPEC, told journalists on Saturday that the list of energy projects would be revised with the expectations that more power projects would be made part of the CPEC after getting approval of JCC meeting, including two projects of 100MW and 80MW at Gilgit as well as Taunsa Hydropower Project of 800MW.
He said that Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) and Mainline-1 (ML-1) were strategic projects and finalisation of implementation plan for dualisation/ up-gradation of rail line from Peshawar to Karachi (ML-1) was expected to be finalised. When the official was asked to comment regarding Sindh’s claim for blaming the Center for creating stumbling block in the way of KCR, he said that it was strategic and deliverable project and group of experts could find out solution on the table.
The ML-1, he said, has been envisaged with estimated cost of $8.130 billion and first phase will be kick-started in 2018.
He said that it was decided in principle to focus upon increasing cooperation on industrial zones as four feasibility studies related to each one in Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Gilgit-Baltistan was so far finalised and would be submitted for Chinese comments out of total nine Special Economic Zones (SEZs). “The sharing of feasibility studies will be done and future roadmap will be finalised,” he added. Currently, he said that there were total 22 projects under construction with the help of CPEC initiative with total cost of $27 billion of which 15 projects having cost of $22 billion were related to energy projects. In shape of Early Harvest Programme (EHP), he said that around 11,110MW related projects were under construction, expected to be completed in 2018.
He said that the design framework agreement for construction of Gwadar International Airport with cost of $260 million grant money was expected to be signed during this JCC meeting. The letter of expression (LOE) for Vocational Training and Friendship Hospital at Gwadar will also be finalised. The groundbreaking of Eastbay Expressway will be done on November 24, 2017, by Prime Minister Shahid Khakan Abbasi alongwith visiting Chinese leaders. For desalination of water of 5 million gallon in Gwadar, he said that this important project would be discussed and would be completed in one and half year period.