High powered steering committee formed for CPEC

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has formed a high-powered steering committee for periodical consultation with the provinces on matters related to the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

According to the statement, it was decided to carry out the construction of the western route of CPEC on priority.

The statement claimed, all parties affirmed their support to the CPEC, agreeing that the new institutional framework will be able to better accommodate the regional concerns in future.

The development comes a week after the Chinese government urged the government, its allies and opposition parties to resolve their differences on the route of the multibillion dollar project.

The China Pakistan Economic Corridor may be a genuine, transformational moment in the country’s history, but, as with so much else under the present government, there is far too much secrecy and far too little transparency when it comes to the execution of colossal infrastructure and energy projects.

The crux of the matter remains whether or not the supposedly national CPEC will be used to disproportionately, and unfairly, benefits Punjab at the expense of the other provinces.

It is a potentially explosive inter-provincial issue that refuses to go away and the PML-N must largely be blamed for the continuing political controversy.

Almost nine months after President Xi Jinping’s visit to Islamabad, the China Pakistan Economic Corridor is proving to be a major attraction for domestic investors who see it as catalyst for Pakistan to grow its economy at a pace achieved by leading regional peers.

A steel mill in Karachi, which is said to be the major supplier of steel for the Lahore Orange Line Metro Train project, is said to be planning to expand its capacity.

A Lahore based electric cable manufacturer, fast Cables, has expanded its manufacturing facility to meet the future demand of CPEC linked projects and is planning to boost it further and a Peshawar-based investor is said to have shown interest in setting up a steel plant near Lahore.

Pakistan remains one of the slowest growing South Asian economies for the last several years despite being the second most populated country after India. Pakistan’s economy is estimated by the World Bank to expand by just 5.5pc during the calendar year 2016.

On the other hand, growth in India is expected to speed up to 7.7pc, Bhutan to 7.2pc, Bangladesh to 6.8pc and Sri Lanka to 5.6pc. Only Maldives and Nepal are estimated to grow more slowly than Pakistan, according to a new World Bank report.