Work on three CPEC projects halted till China’s approval, says planning minister

ISLAMABAD: China has halted the release of funds for three projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) till the revision of its ‘financial mechanism’ by Beijing, Minister for Planning and Develop­ment Ahsan Iqbal confirmed.

According to an official press release issued by National Assembly Secretariat, the minister informed the 25th parliamentary committee meeting on CPEC that the Chinese side was reviewing the financial mechanism of these projects and work on them would restart after receiving approval from Beijing.

Mr Iqbal could not convince the committee members as to why the Chinese government had opted for a new financial mechanism and scrapped the previous one which was agreed upon by both countries.

It was reported that China had temporarily stopped funding some projects, particularly those related to the road network under CPEC, till a further decision on ‘new guidelines’ by Beijing.

When contacted, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leader Asad Umar, who is also a member of the parliamentary committee, said he had raised the issue of suspension of Chinese funds at the meeting, which was chaired by Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed.

The members, he said, were informed that China was revising the infrastructure projects under its “financial review”.

Another member of the committee, Al-Haj Gul Khan Afridi, said they were told that China had not stopped financing the CPEC projects but raised some ‘technical objections’ to three NHA road projects. A team of Chinese experts would arrive in the country soon to inspect the three NHA projects, he added.

However, a senior NHA official rejected the government claim that work on the three road projects of the authority had been halted on technical grounds. “It is not true that China raised objections to the projects because these had already been approved at the 6th Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) meeting held last year,” he said.

Ahsan Iqbal informed the committee that the Karachi Circular Railway project had been approved for CPEC, while similar projects for Quetta and Peshawar would be reviewed in accordance with the technical feasibility reports.