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EditorialIn the corridor of CPEC

In the corridor of CPEC

The multibillion-dollar CPEC initiative should be immediately restarted as its resumption will help Pakistan’s fragile economy, which is in desperate need of foreign loans and investments to boost its decreasing foreign exchange reserves and stabilise its currency and external sector.

The project will be discussed during Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s first official visit to China, which is scheduled to begin early next week. Other top priorities include the prompt completion of outstanding big infrastructure projects, such as the Karachi Circular Railway, a $10 billion railway project, and $18.5 billion in energy generation plans, payment delays to Chinese power producers, and Pakistan’s ongoing liquidity issues. Beginning in 2015, 28 projects totalling $18.8 billion have been finished to date. There are further $34 billion projects in various states of preparation or construction. The projects were approved at the Joint Cooperation Committee meeting, which was finally held after a very long time, according to the government, and an official announcement will be made throughout Mr Sharif’s stay. Due to a lack of foresight of the previous government, these projects lost steam.

The scope of the CPEC has widened with the inclusion of water resource management, business-to-business investments in the energy and industrial sectors, and climate change concerns. Both sides should now leave behind the missed opportunities and delays in the execution of schemes like SEZs agreed upon eight years ago and should move forward to the sale of some agricultural products to China, the building of a 10,000 MW solar power plant, and so on.

The coalition government’s initiative to promote CPEC in its political commitment will revive Chinese investments. The payment and approval problems that Chinese enterprises are currently facing should be solved. The fact that his efforts are now appearing to be paying off is encouraging for Pakistan because the CPEC programmes can assist in filling up our infrastructure gaps and reviving our flagging economy. However, it is preferable that the nation’s political leadership learn from past errors that had caused this large investment drive to become the subject of a significant public debate because of the lack of transparency in the deals done with Chinese corporations. Therefore, it is imperative that the prime minister persuade Beijing to tell the public and bilateral lenders of all relevant information regarding the arrangements reached and the associated expenses. Unnecessary issues surrounding the CPEC plan may harm its programmes as well as China-Pakistani ties.

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