ISLAMABAD: The government has decided to include Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) and Keti Bunder port projects in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
The decision was taken at a meeting on CPEC and power generation projects presided over by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at PM Office on Monday.
The government also vowed to overcome loadshedding by 2018 and increase the country’s total power production up to 30,000MW by 2022.
According to the prime minister’s spokesman, the meeting reviewed progress in different projects under the CPEC and the benchmarks set for numerous energy, transport infrastructure and industrial projects with particular focus on socioeconomic development of Gwadar.
The prime minister was briefed on the tentative agenda items for the upcoming meeting of the China-Pakistan Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC). About the procedure for inclusion of a project in the CPEC, the meeting was informed that approval of any decision by the working group concerned was imperative before its final approval by the JCC.
“The prime minister directed that Karachi Circular Railway and Keti Bunder port projects must be taken up at the next JCC meeting for inclusion in CPEC, as conveyed by the Sindh government,” the spokesman said.
The prime minister directed Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal to consult the chief ministers for finalisation of sites in the provinces for establishment of economic zones along the CPEC.
Mr Sharif was quoted as saying: “Industrial zones would be set up at places that have economic feasibility and viability for maximum economic returns and benefits for both China and Pakistan.”
He directed the formation of a committee to suggest and advise the Chinese government about economic practicability and benefit of economic zones’ sites.
“China helped us a great deal in the economic revival at a crucial juncture for which the government and people of Pakistan are grateful to the Chinese leadership and people. China and Pakistan have translated their long-term strategic ties into a strong and durable economic partnership that would greatly benefit both the countries,” the prime minister said.
The meeting was informed that infrastructure projects, including road, rail, aviation and data connectivity, were being executed on a fast-track basis.
The meeting was also briefed on energy projects being carried out under the CPEC, including coal, hydel, wind, solar and transmission lines, as well as on the capacity and timeline for completion of various ongoing power projects in the country.
It was informed that about 10,996MW would be added to the national grid by March 2018 against the expected electricity shortfall of 7,000 to 8,000MW for 2017-18.
The meeting was told that work on improving the transmission system was going on in all parts of the country and it was being closely monitored by the water and power ministry. The system augmentation work for carrying additional capacity would be completed by the end of 2017, which would make the country’s 90 per cent transmission system constraint-free.
The prime minister said that getting rid of power shortages was essential for realising the huge economic potential of the country, which had unfortunately been ignored by successive governments for 15 years. He said the government’s long-term plans included production of over 30,000MW of electricity by 2022.
Mr Sharif was of the opinion that increased power generation would substantially contribute towards economic growth and increase industrial activities. He said he was personally monitoring the progress on the ongoing power projects to ensure their timely completion. “Our energy plan is the centrepiece of our economic vision and no laxity in the execution and completion of energy projects could be tolerated,” he said.
The meeting was attended by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Planning and Development Minister Ahsan Iqbal, Water and Power Minister Khawaja Mohammad Asif, Ports and Shipping Minister Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Tariq Fatemi.