CPEC projects carry no hidden debt: Asad Umar

Chinese debt constitute 26pc of total external liabilities: Urges media to foil unjustified campaign against CPEC instead of becoming part of it

Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar has categorically stated that the projects related to China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) are transparent and carry no hidden debt.

Reacting to a recent report of an American think tank on CPEC during a press conference along with Special Assistant to Prime Minister on CPEC Khalid Mansoor on Wednesday, Asad Umar said that details about the corridor project have been shared on multiple occasions including at the level of parliament. There is also a parliamentary oversight on this mega project.

The minister said that each and every thing about the project is kept public. He said the concerned authorities are bound to tell all the required information to the parliament and the parliamentary committees, besides all information about tariff structure of the energy projects under CPEC are also available on the website of National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) .

He said that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) also asked for information about the projects under CPEC which were provided by the government of Pakistan. He said the government of Pakistan gives sovereign guarantee to all the foreign funded projects and all the Independent Power Producers (IPPs) whether they are from China, US or any other country are given sovereign guarantee by the Pakistan government.

The minister clarified that the Chinese debt is only 26 percent of the total external liabilities of Pakistan. He said that Pakistan has a debt servicing challenge which it is meeting but clarified that they do not have any problem with the Chinese debt. Asad said the terms of debt financing for power projects executed under the CPEC are actually more favourable than the non-CPEC financing which had come in from other multilateral agencies.

He said the loans which have been taken by the government are also at the concessional rate of two percent. He said that China has also provided grants to execute different CPEC related projects. A vocational training institute has been established in Gwadar with the Chinese grant, he added. “There are many projects that are executed through the Chinese government’s grant so if we include the amount of grant, then the average interest rate turns to even less than 2%,” he added. He said the Chinese loans are even cheaper than those executed by the other international lending agencies such as International Finance Commission (IFC), Asian Development Bank (ADB), German lending agency and other Western agencies.

Asad said that fake news are spread against the corridor project in order to spread despondency amongst the people and give a wrong impression to the world about Pakistan. He said that most of the projects under the CPEC have been completed in the stipulated period. He said that both Pakistan and China welcome investment from other countries in this project. He said that Pakistan will support transforming this bilateral corridor into a regional corridor project. He urged the media to foil the international unjustified campaign against the CPEC instead of becoming part of it. The minister said today is the era of 5th generation hybrid warfare when the enemy is utilising new tools to flop the opponent’s projects.

“We are witnessing the international campaign against our national project under which false and baseless news are being disseminated to reverse the progress,” he said, adding, “This campaign is understandable but it is quite nonsense that our local media is also becoming part of it deliberately or unintentionally by quoting the Western media’s report against CPEC”. Speaking on the occasion, Khalid Mansoor said when work on Thar coal power project was initiated, no one other than China was ready to invest in this project. He said the mismanagement in the conditions of the projects was committed by then Pakistan government which should not be linked to China.