PTI-led govt plans to rethink over CPEC-related projects, claims International media

11:00 AM | 10 Sep, 2018
PTI-led govt plans to rethink over CPEC-related projects, claims International media

KARACHI - With concerns being raised by PTI-led government's members over undue advantages to Chinese companies,  Pakistan is considering reviewing agreements signed with China under President Xi Jinping's Belt and Road Initiative, Financial Times magazine reported on Sunday.

The projects on which renegotiations are being reconsidered are part of the multi-billion dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) plan that connects Asia and Europe through Pakistan's Gawadar port.

Prime Minister Imran Khan's advisor on commerce, textiles, industries production, and investment Abdul Razzaq Dawood talking to FT said that the agreements which are extending illegal benefits to Chinese firms need to be reevaluated, adding that Pakistani companies are facing disadvantages. He suggested that all projects based on the CPEC, which remained at the center position during the tenure of PML-N, must be stopped for at least a year.

“Chinese companies received tax breaks, many breaks and have an undue advantage in Pakistan; this is one of the things we’re looking at because it’s not fair that Pakistan companies should be disadvantaged,” he told the FT.

He slammed the previous government of PML-N for not negotiating with China correctly on the CPEC, saying “The previous government did a bad job...".

“I think we should put everything on hold for a year so we can get our act together. Perhaps we can stretch CPEC out over another five years or so,” he added.

Finance Minister Asad Umar, who is chalking out a plan to avoid IMF programme, talking to the international magazine said that Pakistan should be wary on not offending China even as it reviews the CPEC.

We don’t intend to handle this process like Mahathir,” Umar said while referring to the Malaysian Prime Minister Mahatir Mohammad who issued alerts about possible Chinese "neo-colonialism" on the pretext of its investments. The new Malaysian government also suspended three pipeline projects run by China.

Amid calls for the reevaluation of the CPEC, Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who reached Pakistan last week, indicated his country's willingness to talk about the CPEC again.

It is recalled that PM Imran Khan, on September 4, formed separate cabinet committees on the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), privatization and energy.

The Chinese foreign minister called on Imran Khan in Islamabad on Sunday to discuss regional situation and global issues with the new government in the South Asian country.

During the meeting, Yi conveyed the desire of Chinese leadership to work with the new government for further enhancing the strategic partnership between Pakistan and China.

The foreign minister underscored the significance of China-Pakistan relationship which served as a model of friendship in interstate relations. He underscored the significance of CPEC for the mutual benefit of the people of both countries.

Imran Khan, who took the office last month, thanked Yi for the good wishes of Chinese leadership. He reiterated that friendship with China is a cornerstone of Pakistan’s Foreign Policy.

An official press release states that the Pakistani premier thanked his Chinese counterpart for the invitation to visit China and looked forward to his visit and meetings with the Chinese leadership.

Khan also reiterated that his government is committed to the implementation of CPEC.