PM puts CPEC projects on top priority: Asim Bajwa

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By Asghar Ali Mubarak

ISLAMABAD: Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Lt. Gen (Retd) Asim Saleem Bajwa Thursday said that the Prime Minister had directed to complete all CPEC projects on priority.
He said while addressing a signing ceremony of Business Cooperation Agreements in various fields between leading Chinese entrepreneurs and Heavy Mechanical Complex (HMC) in Taxila. He said all those projects which were held up due to procedural delay or technical reasons would be handled on priority.
Referring to misleading news disseminated by some detractors, he said CPEC was becoming a fast reality and it had been witnessed by all that even COVID-19 could not hamper the progress of CPEC projects.
“We are all set to launch CPEC Phase-II in a deliberate, prepared and in an institutionalize manner with full consciousness of transparency,” he said.
Asim Bajwa who also heads CPEC Authority said as per direction of the PM, loan burden on the government in Phase-II would be reduced by opting the business to business mode with the Chinese firms who would be invited to come to Pakistan and partner with the Pakistani companies for investment.
“We are connecting the companies from the two countries among themselves and a new business council for this purpose is also going to be announced soon,” he said. Under the banner of CPEC, he said a lot of new projects and business activities were going to happen in days to come. He said Pakistan-China relationship and development of CPEC was not restricted to one government but rather it spanned over decades. Asim Bajwa said that a process of mass industrialization was going to be initiated in the country under second phase of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that would ensure self-reliance in various fields.Asim Bajwa maintained that under second phase railway sector would be revamped by up-grading the mainline (ML-1) railway line from Karachi to Peshawar.
“Manpower would be totally revamped, underpasses and overhead bridges would be built at all railway crossings, and speed of trains would significantly enhance,” he said. He said latest technology and industry would now be relocated to Pakistan and for this purpose preferred Special Economic Zones (SEZs) were being established in all provinces under CPEC. “We are close to signing development agreement of Rashakai in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, work progress on Dhabeji SEZ in Sindh was going well while Allama Iqbal Economic Zone in Punjab has already been inaugurated”. He said the signing of agreements between HMC and Chinese companies would help enhancing exports and substituting the imports besides boosting employment opportunities in the country. The revamping of HMC with the help of China will contribute in import substitution and prevent us from importing heavy machinery from abroad and we will be relying heavily on HMC, he said and requested all companies who were ready to install industries in SEZs to place their orders with HMC to get their machines as per their demand.
Further the Special Assistant said that development of agriculture sector was also part of CPEC Phase-II and with the help of China, all types of heavy agricultural machinery would now be manufactured at HMC that earlier were used to be imported from abroad.
Meanwhile Chinese Ambassador Yao Jing said the agreement would help strengthening mutual economic cooperation. He said the second phase of CPEC, China would help Pakistan in building its capacity in various fields including manufacturing, agriculture and science and technology. Ambassador of Pakistan to China Naghmana Hashmi said through a video link that Pakistan China cooperation would further enhance HMC capacities to play role in the country’s development. Chairman Atomic Energy Commission Muhammad Naeem also spoke on the occasion.
Earlier, China Pakistan Economic Corridor Authority (CPECA) Chairman General (retd) Asim Saleem Bajwa on Wednesday rejected the impression that the CPEC projects are being slowed down. “Some detractors giving false impression of # CPEC being slowed. Not only pace of work on projects picked up recently, a great deal ground work done to launch phase-2,” he said in a Twitter statement. Bajwa said a number of projects under the CPEC are in the pipeline, including $7.2 billion ML-1, two hydel power projects worth $3.5 billion, special economic zones, and agricultural schemes.
Earlier, on May 22, Chinese Embassy in Pakistan had taken notice of what it called irresponsible remarks from outgoing US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Alice Wells on the China-Pakistan relations and the CPEC project.
According to a message posted on micro-blogging website-Twitter, the Chinese Embassy in Pakistan termed Alice Wells’ remarks as totally baseless, just a repetition of her same old tune. “This is yet another doomed attempt to defame Sino-Pak relations and the CPEC. We are firmly opposed to it.”