ISLAMABAD - Federal Minister for Planning and Development Khusro Bakhtiar said Saturday that government had decided to establish China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Authority to upgrade the existing structure for speedy and focused execution of the projects.

The government would soon introduce legalisation for it in the parliament, the minister said at a press conference.

He said the required legal framework would be prepared for the purpose as soon as possible. “We would soon come up with bill so that the CPEC Authority is established as soon as possible,” he added.

He said skillfull human resource would be hired for this purpose to run it on modern lines and strengthen the capabilities to achieve the set targets.

He further said that CPEC Authority would work under the Ministry of Planning and Development, and specialists in various sectors will work with a focused and scientific approach. The CPEC Authority would help strengthen country’s endeavours to achieve the set economic targets and enhance regional connectivity. He said chairman of National Development Reforms Commission of China will visit Pakistan in October. The government would discuss the CEPC Authority in the Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) with China in October this year, he added. “The CPEC Authority has no link with prime minister’s visit to Washington,” he replied to a question.

Khusro Bakhtiar said both countries will establish Pakistan-China Business Council. The government would include people from the private sector to implement industrial and agricultural development projects under the second phase of CPEC. He said Pakistan had shared names of leading industrialists with the Chinese side for the purpose. He said the $230 million Gwadar Airport had already been inaugurated, while the work on water plant Gwadar Vocational Training Institution and hospital was underway. Gwadar’s master plan was being finalised, under which Gwadar will emerge as an attractive smart port of the world. He said various projects were being executed in Gwadar under CPEC.

Federal Minister for Planning and Development said $8.5 billion ML-1 railway track project had been divided into three phases. The preliminary design of the project was signed during the last visit of the prime minister to China. Khusro said the project will contribute to materialising the dream of regional connectivity through Pakistan.

He said that the incumbent government was committed to complete all projects and agreements under CPEC. He said the PTI government had signed agreements with China in agriculture, industrial and socio-economic development sectors under the second phase of CPEC. In the first phase, the minister maintained, energy and infrastructure projects were focused. He said the ongoing projects, including the roads of the western and eastern routes of CPEC, will be completed. The Multan-Sukkur Motorway was set to launch in August this year while the Sukkur-Hyderabad Motorway would also be completed soon.

The minister said China had made commitment of one billion dollars for socio-economic development in the country. The incumbent government had allocated funds for the Eastern as well Western route of the CPEC. 

He said due to crisis in Pakistan’s energy sector, the international investors were reluctant to come to Pakistan, however at this difficult stage, the all-weather friend China came forward and invested heavily in Pakistan’s power sector to bring the country out of crisis. There would be further $29 billion investment in energy sector under CPEC, as there were many hydroelectric projects in the pipeline. “The CPEC has helped in stabilising the economy and setting up electricity projects in the country,” he added.

Khusro Bakhtiar said Chinese companies had decided to invest $5 billion in various small and medium sized industrial sectors in Pakistan over a period of five year, as a delegation of over 55 Chinese companies’ chiefs met with Prime Minister Imran Khan here on Friday. He said now the government to government focus was being shifted to business to business focus and private sector would be engaged in the mega projects of the country in order to ease out budget pressure on government, besides developing the small and medium enterprises of the country.