ISLAMABAD – Pakistan has allocated 180 billion rupees ($1.71 billion) for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and different projects in Gwadar during the 2017-18 financial year which will begin on July 1.
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Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, who presented the Rs 4,757 billion budget on Friday, announced several CPEC projects in his speech in parliament. He told the National Assembly that the development of Gwadar city in Balochistan province was “fundamental to development of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor”.
“A comprehensive plan is being implemented for the road link networks, expansion and modernisation of the airport, and development of the area. Thirty one projects for development of Gwadar are provided in 2017-2018 budget which include implementation of Gwadar master plan, New Gwadar international airport, a 200-bed hospital, 200 MW power generation, and desalination plant,” he said in his speech.
“CPEC projects would enter into their third year of implementation during 2017-2018,” he added.
The government recently also invited the tenders for the construction of the New Gwadar International Airport (NGIA).
The airport costing Rs 22 billion is said to be almost 40% complete while the rest of the construction will be finished in about two years time.
Total 4300 acres of land has been earmarked for the airport. The Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has been assigned responsibility for the execution of scheme on fast track basis. The airport would be developed as a major hub for all aviation activities in the region.
Dar told the National Assembly that Rs231 billion were already spent on the mega-corridor project; out of which Rs160b were spent on construction of roads and bridges under CPEC.
The federal government has allocated Rs44b for western route of CPEC, while 1.8 billion rupees have been set aside for CPEC security.
Dar said imports have been recorded at $37.8 billion during July-April, showing an upward trajectory compared to the same period last year.
“This vibrancy in imports is attributable to over 40 per cent increase in capital machinery, industrial raw material and petroleum products and the increased investment under the CPEC projects focused on energy and infrastructure sectors. All of this augurs well for Pakistan’s economy in the near future.”
Pakistan’s defence expenditure in the next financial year will be around 7 per cent higher than it was in the outgoing year at Rs 920.2 billion.
The minister said Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves currently stand at Rs 16 billion despite a larger than expected trade deficit, mainly due to increased import of capital goods.