Islamabad - The Cabinet Committee on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CCoCPEC) is likely to approve the establishment of the CPEC Authority today (Monday).

The Cabinet Committee on CPEC (CCoCPEC) is meeting here to discuss four-point agenda related to overall progress on CPEC, official sources told The Nation on Sunday. The CCoCPEC is likely to recommend the establishment of the CPEC Authority to the federal cabinet for its approval, said the source,

According the agenda the Cabinet Committee on CPEC will review the progress on CPEC projects, establishment of CPEC authority, briefing on development agreement of Rashakai Special Economic Zone (SEZ) and preparation for the upcoming Joint Cooperation Committee of CPEC meeting. The 9th JCC is scheduled to be held in October this year in Pakistan.

The Cabinet Committee on CPEC which is chaired by Minister of Planning Development and Reforms and it includes Federal Minister for foreign Affairs, Communication, Interior, Law and Justice, Maritime Affairs, Petroleum and Railways as its members. Advisors to the Prime Minister on Finance, Revenues and Economic Affairs, Commerce and institutional reforms and austerity as its members.

The government has decided to establish an autonomous authority for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) prior to the next Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) meeting. Senior officials at the ministry of Planning are against the establishment of the CPEC Authority at this stage but China and a local lobby is pursuing for establishment of such authority, said the source.

According the source, the idea of CPEC Authority is not new as in previous PML-N government various proposals for making CPEC a separate entity was floated but were rejected by the then prime minister Nawaz Sharif and planning minister Ahsan Iqbal.  There was also a proposal of bringing CPEC under National Security Council but it was also rejected by the then prime minister, the source added. The proposed authority will have a chairman and full-fledged office and the current CPEC secretariat will be merged into it, the source added. However no decision regarding the existing 50 employees of CPEC secretariat has been made yet, the source said.

According to the sources, the current portfolio of CPEC is around $ 46 billion and out of that amount $28 billion have already been materialised which was done without CPEC Authority. Similarly, majority of CPEC projects are either in Energy or Communications which will be completed by 2023 or the very next year, said the source.

“Why for just $18 billion and less than five years period the government is making an autonomous authority?” the source questioned.

Besides, there are the Ministry of Communication, NHA for the infrastructure projects and Ministry of Energy and Wapda for the energy projects, but even then the government wants to establish a new authority to further complicate the process,” the source said.

The Chinese are supporting establishment of CPEC Authority and want to have the same prior to next JCC meeting on CPEC, said the source.

After the approval from the cabinet committee on CPEC the summary regarding the establishment of the CPEC authority will be presented to the Federal Cabinet for final approval, said the source.

Regarding the development agreement for the CPEC SEZ at Rashakai the source said that China wants some assurances from the KP and federal government which includes the provision of incentive during the entire life of the zone and provision of gas, electricity and other facilities.