Pakistan on Monday (Oct 7) established the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Authority to speed up the delayed projects as Prime Minister Imran Khan arrived in Beijing.
The establishment of CPEC Authority was aimed at accelerating the pace of CPEC related activities.
Multi-billion dollar CPEC was launched in 2015 and several projects under the first phase are close to completion. But the progress on CPEC next phase projects have reportedly slowed since Prime Minister Imran Khan came to power last year.
The Pakistani media has reported that most of the CPEC-related projects have stalled due to certain reasons, including prevailing financial crunch confronting the government and non-cooperation' of the bureaucracy due to fear of the National Accountability Bureau, the anti-corruption watchdog.
The CPEC is the flagship project of President Xi Jinping's multi-billion Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
The CPEC has also become a major irritant in India-China relations with New Delhi voicing its opposition to the infrastructure project as it traverses through Pakistan-administered Kashmir. India is wary of not only Pakistan becoming the recipient of all of this development but also of the increasing role of China in the region.
The CPEC was one of the major topics of discussion during Imran Khan's two-day (Monday, Tuesday) talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang.
The CPEC Authority shall be primarily responsible for coordination, monitoring and evaluation to ensure implementation of CPEC activities. It shall exercise its powers and perform its functions in line with the framework and memorandum of understanding signed between Pakistan and China.
Pakistan has also amended tax laws to give income, sales tax and custom duty exemptions to Gwadar Port and Gwadar Free Zone to enabled them to deal with transit trade.
Meanwhile media reports said Prime Minister Imran Khan has decided to hand over cash-bleeding Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) to China for its revival.
The federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms Makhdum Khusro Bakhtyar said Sunday that the government would offer the steel sector to China for bilateral cooperation in an effort to reduce about $2bn current imports on account of scrap and steel products.
The cooperation in this field would help the country enhance Pakistan Steel Mills capacity to three million tonnes, he said, explaining that Pakistan's steel requirement was currently nine million tonnes and was estimated to increase to 12m tonnes within a few years as economy starts to grow. At present, the country's total steel production stood at 4.5m tonnes.
"All the existing projects under the CPEC portfolio have been streamlined and there is no slowdown anywhere," the minister said.
The CPEC is an economic 'corridor' or zone between China and Pakistan started in 2015 and eventually, on completion, will be connecting a number of countries in South and Central Asia for trade and industrial purposes.
Originally valued at $46 billion, the value of CPEC projects is worth $62 billion as of 2017.
A vast network of highways and railways are to be built under the aegis of CPEC that will span the length and breadth of Pakistan.
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