CPEC Parliamentary Committee meeting held

Islamabad: The 32nd in-camera meeting of the Parliamentary Committee on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was held Wednesday under the Chairmanship of Sher Ali Arbab.

The Committee was briefed by Secretary, M/o Defence, Secretary, Aviation Division, Secretary, Board of Investment, Secretary, M/o Petroleum Division, Secretary, M/o Communications, Additional Secretary, M/o Planning, Development and Special Initiatives, Additional Secretary, M/o Interior, Joint Secretary, Power Division, Chairman, National Highways Authority, Secretary, M/o Industries, Government of KP, Secretary, Industries, Government of Balochistan, , CEO KPEZDMC, CEO, FIEDMC, CEO, PESCO, Managing Director, SSGC, Managing Director, SNGPL regarding Sust Border management framework, progress on New Gwadar International Airport, the updated progress on infrastructure Development of 4 Prioritized Special Economic Zones under CPEC (Rashakai KP, Allama Iqbal Industrial City Faislabad, Dhabeji Sindh and Bostan Quetta and Gwadar Fencing Project.

During briefing on Sust Border management framework, the Committee remarked that the world is increasingly moving towards complex economic interdependence. In 21st century trade, commerce, investment and connectivity are Pakistan’s strategic interests. The Committee recommended to the quarters concerned to decide about the lead ministry which will regulate boder’s management framework, come up with viable proposals to open Sust border for whole year and shrug off all the odds and challenges faced at the border so that seamless regulation of trade and economic activities could take place there.

The Committee expressed dissatisfaction over snail’s pace progress on New Gwadar International Airport and remarked that the procrastination in provision of facilities to Gwadar which is deemed to compete with Dubai and Chahbahar port vehemently cripples economic activities there. Pakistan cannot have prosperous Gwadar without having fully functional international airport there. It is, therefore, vital to take up the issue of its delay at the highest forum and expedite the process of its completion.

Secretary, Ministry of Defence briefed the Committee on Gwadar Fencing Project. He apprised that the project is primarily aimed at making Gwadar city a “weapon free zone” and to create enabling environment for trade and business. The project started on 4th December, 2020. However, owing to reservations expressed by various segments of the society, it was temporarily halted on 29th December, 2020. Government of Balochistan has also constituted a Committee comprising local notables, elected representatives and civil administration for suggesting a way forward for the project.

As soon as the consensus is evolved, the work on the project would be resumed at high speed. The Committee recommended that MNA/Senator from Gwadar may also be included in that Committee and apprehensions and reservations of local people pertaining to Gwadar Fencing Project should also be allayed to stave off the alienation of locals from the development of Gwadar under CPEC framework. A pragmatic and holistic approach should be pursued with regard to the security measures being taken at Gwadar to beget a conducive environment for facilitating trade and investment there.

The Committee sought the compliance on its previous recommendation regarding implementation of Axle Load Policy and expressed the concern that inability to implement Axle Load Policy in true letter and spirit is causing massive financial loss in billions of rupees in terms of road maintenance and repairing. The overloaded vehicles are causing exponential damages to road infrastructure in Pakistan. The Committee observed that there was an exigency of establishing the strongest coordination among all the quarters concerned and directed Ministry of Communications to ensure the implementation of axle load limit after consulting with all major stakeholders so that the trade could be regulated smoothly and damages to road infrastructure could be prevented.

The Committee expressed satisfaction over the pace of work on infrastructure development of Rashakai KP and Allama Iqbal Industrial City Faisalabad and noted that securing investment of billions of rupees in these SEZs is a landmark development. The Committee remarked that CPEC has potential prospects of ushering new era of economic development and lasting prosperity for the people of Pakistan and its success hinges upon the effective and timely operation of all SEZs. Provision of utilities to all SEZs has been top priority of the Committee therefore no compromise will be tolerated on the part of undue delay in provision of utilities to the SEZs. The Committee directed to take all the measures to catch mamixum investment in SEZs and further expedite the process of provision of all ancillary facilities to SEZs.

The Committee deferred briefing on Dhabeji SEZ due to absence of CEO, Dhabeji, Sindh and after observing slow progress on Bostan SEZ decided to convene special meeting on updated progress on infrastructure development of Bostan special economic zone by coming Wednesday.

The meeting was attended by Noor Alam Khan, Umer Aslam Khan, Mir Khan Muhammad Jamali,. Nafeesa Inayatullah Khan Khattak, Ahsan Iqbal Chaudhry, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, Murtaza Javed Abbasi, Mehnaz Akber Aziz, and Zahid Akram Durrani.