Islamabad - Senate Special Committee on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Wednesday rejected idea of establishing a CPEC authority through ordinance and recommended that it should be set up through act of Parliament.

The Senate special committee on CPEC that met with Senator Sherry Rehman in chair clearly told the government that it will never support the CPEC authority which is technocratic in nature and going towards the centralization.

The committee discussed the proposed bill to set up a monitoring authority for CPEC projects. The committee agreed unanimously not to support any such document without it being presented to the Parliament for approval.

Senator Sherry said, “We have recommended the CPEC authority so that work on the corridor projects should be accelerated and the provinces can get representation in it. We have never recommended such an authority which takes the things toward centralization,” she said.

Says it must be set up through act of parliament. Demands immediate construction of interchange on Multan-Sukkur Motorway. Shows concern over amendment in SEZs law

Sherry said that TORs regarding establishment of the CPEC authority had not been shared with the committee and asked the planning ministry to do that immediately.

Sherry recommended to establish the CPEC authority through act of parliament and warned that authority through ordinance will be unacceptable.

Senator Javed Abbasi said the impression was given that CPEC authority was being established on recommendation of the committee which was not true.

He said that if the government wanted to establish the authority through act of parliament, it should bring the bill to the committee.

Senator Usman Kakar said the authority should never be established. The committee discussed in detail SMEs and SEZs, uninterrupted power supply along CPEC routes, delaying of tariff determination by NEPRA for coal-based energy project in Gwadar and second phase of Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

Discussing the issue of Special Economic Zones, the committee was informed that government was taking U-turn on SEZs law and certain amendments were being made in law pertaining to SEZs.

This would help reduce current account deficit which has gone up considerably in the last few years and will be beneficial to both Pakistan and China.

Amendment in laws would encourage exports. Sherry showed concern about amendment in the SEZs law and said after one year the government was taking U-turn.

The committee took serious notice of Bostan Industrial Zone, Balochistan not being included in the list of prioritized SEZs.

These were Rashakai SEZ Nowshera, Allama Iqbal Industrial City and China Special Economic Zone, Dhabejji, Thatta.

The committee was assured that the federal government will look after the budget through PSDP. The committee stressed that incentives must not be revoked as this would be a gross violation of rights.

Discussing delay of tariff determination by Nepra for coal-based energy project (300 MW) in Gwadar, the committee was informed that the company demanded increase in tariff rates.

Nepra increased rates to Rs 7.5 per unit, however, this was not acceptable to the company. So the matter was submitted to a tribunal. The committee recommended that tribunal must be set up immediately.

The committee raised issue of borrowing electricity from Iran. The Senate body was informed that 100MW electricity was being borrowed which was reduced to 40MW during summer.

Discussing second stage of Free Trade Agreement, the committee recommended that a mechanism be formulated to ensure that Pakistani industry can compete.

The Senate panel was informed that as a result of 2nd phase agreement Pakistan would regain eroded margin of preference, asymmetrical liberalization favouring Pakistan: 90 percent for China and 67 percent for Pakistan.  At the end, the committee also adopted a resolution proposed by Senator Muhammad Javed Abbasi.

It demanded of the government to take immediate steps for construction of an interchange on the Multan-Sukkur Motorway at Village Bhong, Tehsil Sadiqabad, District Rahim Yar Khan.

The meeting was convened by Sherry Rehman and was attended by senators Muhammad Ali Khan Saif, Syed Muhammad Ali Shah Jamote, Sikander Mandhro, Dr. Ghous Muhammad Khan Niazi, Dr. Asad Ashraf, Muhammad Usman Khan Kakar, Muhammad Akram, Muhammad Azam Khan Swati, Samina Saeed, Sitara Ayaz, Mir Kabeer Ahmed Muhammad Shahi, Muhammad Javed Abbasi and senior officers of the Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform, Board of Investment, Power Division, Ministry of Industries and Production along with all concerned.