ISLAMABAD: Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Shibli Faraz said on Wednesday that China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), development project of Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) worth over $60 billion was reshaping the geo-economic landscape and was a game-changer not only for Pakistan but also for the entire region.
Speaking as chief guest at the national seminar on â€œCPEC: Challenges and Opportunitiesâ€ here he said that the promotion of CPEC was in the best interest of Pakistan as it was a win-win situation for both the countries.
It was imperative to counter the negative propaganda aimed at undermining the success of the project and bilateral ties, he said adding the benefits of CPEC will reach the grass-root level and would benefit Pakistanâ€™s populace.
He said that road infrastructure projects are estimated to create 51,000 jobs out of which more than 94 per cent would be specifically for Pakistanis.
Pakistan and China joint venture projects, he said are estimated to create 1.2 million job opportunities, more than 33% of which would be exclusively for Pakistani citizens.
Overall 2.3 Million jobs are expected to be created (2015- 2030), resulting in more than 2.5 % annual rise in GDP, he said.
The minister said that the connectivity, economic interdependence and cooperative development culture that the BRI and its flagship component of CPEC will create, will also go a long way in promoting cultural and political integration among the participating countries leading to peace and harmony in the entire region.
He said that the project includes construction of roads, rails, seaports, oil and gas pipelines, optic fiber connectivity, special economic zones (SEZs), cross border trade and cooperation centers, and free trade agreements.
He said that BRI was aimed at better economic linkages for the prosperous future of around 63% of world population hailing from 65 countries of South East Asia, South Asia, Central and Western Asia, Middle East, Europe and Africa.
He said under this project, Gwadar is going to be a hub of Chinese economic ties with the Middle East and North Africa. Shibli Faraz said that major initiatives of CPEC include 2700 kilometre-long road network extending from Gwadar port to Khunjrab Pass through KKH in the Karakoram mountains of Gilgit Baltistan, overhauling of KKH from Hasan Abdal/Punjab to Chinese border/Khunjrab, construction of 1100 km-long-Karachi-Lahore Motorway, upgradation of 1687 KM-long ML-1 railway line, around 10,000 MW power generation projects, $ 2.5 Billion Gwadar-Nawab Shah pipeline to transport gas from Iran.
He said it was estimated that CPEC will generate $ 6-8 Billion per annum just in taxes as roads and bridges tolls.
He said that even a cursory glance at the facts above belie misleading propaganda by a section of Western and Indian media that equate Chinese loans and investments under the CPEC with debt trap diplomacy of China to extend its economic and political influence in the region.
The minister said that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has made remarkable progress in its first phase (2015-2020).
Majority of the projects planned in the transportation infrastructure and energy sectors have been carried out successfully and many are in the execution stage. Plans are now afoot to initiate the second phase (2021-2025) with focus on industrialization, agriculture modernization and socio-economic development.
He said that the purpose is to reap the dividends of the investment made in the first phase that has created an enabling environment for investment in other sectors as existing voids in infrastructure and energy have been filled.
The minister said the Special Economic Zones (SEZs) development at Rashakai (KPK), Allama Iqbal Industrial city (Punjab) and Dhabeji (Sind) are on the priority list and work on them will commence during the current year. In addition, the strategic projects, 1124 MW Kohala HPP and Main Line-1 (ML-1) have also been pushed to the second phase and substantial progress on the planning front has been achieved.
The minister opined that the ML-1 will serve as an anchor project that will further build up the logistic industry in Pakistan. Other avenues of cooperation defined in the Long-Term Plan (2015-2030) are being opened to deepen the cooperation between the two countries, China and Pakistan.
He said that Agriculture and Science & Technology Joint Working Groups (JWGs) are being established in the year 2020 that would add to the existing JWGs in the field of energy, infrastructure, industrial cooperation etc. taking the total number of JWGs 10. Projects in the existing and the newly established areas would enhance the capacity of Pakistan ultimately improving the economic competitiveness of the country.
Shibli Faraz thanked the Pakistani media which he said had played a pivotal role in nullifying the anti-CPEC propaganda and also contributed to the development of the concept of national ownership of this project.