Special committee brainstorms on CPEC projects, discusses bill to establish CPEC authority

07:44 PM | 25 Sep, 2019
Special committee brainstorms on CPEC projects, discusses bill to establish CPEC authority
ISLAMABAD - The Senate Special Committee on the Project of China-Pak Economic Corridor (CPEC) discussed in detail SMEs and SEZs, uninterrupted power supply along CPEC routes, delaying of tariff determination by NEPRA for Coal based energy project in Gwadar and the Second Phase of Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

In addition to all of the above, the Committee also discussed the Bill to set-up a Monitoring Authority for CPEC Projects.  The Committee agreed unanimously not to support any such document without it being presented to the Parliament for approval.

Chairing the meeting, Senator Sherry Rehman demanded that TORs of the CPEC authority be shared in the Committee. She said, “The Senate will oppose formation of CPEC authority through Presidential ordinance, it can only be formed by an act of the parliament and with the consensus of the provinces.”

Senator Sherry Rehman repeatedly stressed that the Authority proposed was to enhance provincial coordination, not to centralize a faltering planning process. “It should have provincial representation to be meaningful and seek approval of Parliament, not land in the Houses as an ordinance”, she said.

The Committee showed concern regarding delay in projects, the proposed ‘Authority’, as portrayed by the Ministry of Planning, Development and Reforms is being set to ensure timely completion of CPEC projects.

The meeting was convened by Sherry Rehman and was attended by Senator Muhammad Ali Khan Saif, Senator Syed Muhammad Ali Shah Jamote, Senator Sikander Mandhro, Senator Dr. Ghous Muhammad Khan Niazi, Senator Dr. Asad Ashraf, Senator Muhammad Usman Khan Kakar, Senator Muhammad Akram, Senator Muhammad Azam Khan Swati, Senator Samina Saeed, Senator Sitara Ayaz, Senator Mir Kabeer Ahmed Muhammad Shahi, Senator Muhammad Javed Abbasi and senior officers of the Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform, Board of Investment, Power Division, Ministry of Industries and Production along with all concerned.

While discussing the issue of Special Economic Zones the Committee was informed that certain amendments were being made in the law pertaining to SEZs.  This would help reduce current account deficit which has increased considerably in the last few years and will be beneficial to both Pakistan and China.  Amendment in laws would encourage exports.

The Committee took serious notice of Bostan Industrial Zone, Balochistan not being included in the list of prioritized SEZs. These were Rashakai SEZ Nowshera, Allama Iqbal Industrial City and China Special Economic Zone, Dhabejji, Thatta.  The Committee was assured that the Federal Government will look after the budget through PSDP.

The Committee stressed that incentives must not be revoked as this would be a gross violation of rights.  While discussing delay of tariff determination by NEPRA for local based Energy Project (300 MW) in Gwadar, the Committee was informed that the Company required increase in tariff rates, NEPRA increased rates to PKR 7.5 per unit , however, this was not acceptable to the Company thus, the matter has been submitted to a tribunal. The Committee recommended that the Tribunal must be set-up immediately.  The Committee raised the issue of borrowing electricity from Iran.  The Committee was informed that 100 MW electricity was being borrowed which was reduced to 40 MW during summer.

While discussing the second stage of Free Trade Agreement, the Committee recommended that a mechanism be formulated to ensure that Pakistani Industries can compete.  The Committee was informed that as a result of the 2nd Phase Agreement Pakistan would regain eroded margin of preference, asymmetrical liberalization favouring Pakistan: 90 percent for China and 67 percent for Pakistan.

At the end, the Committee also adopted a resolution proposed by Senator Muhammad Javed Abbasi. It demands from the Government of Pakistan to take immediate steps for the construction of an interchange on the Multan-Sukkur Motorway at Village Bhong, Tehsil Sadiqabad and District Rahim Yar Khan.