Col (R) Muhammad Hanif
China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is a unique project with $ 46 billion Chinese initial investment having the potential to attract additional investment from China as well as other regional and extra regional countries. This great opportunity is there for Pakistan to make efficient use of incoming investment to develop its economy at a faster speed. Since CPEC construction plan includes installation of power plants, the construction and upgrading of roads, railways, airports, the Gwadar Sea Port and construction of industrial zones, the completion of the Corridor will give four solid advantages to Pakistan. This will comprise power production plants ending shortage of electricity and providing additional electricity, a major increase in the industrial production from industrial zones, the expansion of infrastructure to connect with CPEC to increase domestic trade and the Corridor itself for the carriage of large volumes of international trade. The above mentioned advantages would have a positive impact on Pakistan’s economy in many aspects. The end of the shortage of electricity and additional electricity available will help in generating a lot of economic activity, apart from meeting the household requirements. First of all end of the shortage of electricity would enable the industrial and business enterprises to work for full time efficiently and produce more for domestic consumption and to enhance foreign trade. Secondly availability of additional electricity will not only help in an early completion of the CPEC but it will also enable Pakistani industrial setups to expand their business and install more industrial units in the newly created industrial zones along the CPEC. Thirdly, the production of electricity will help in mechanization of Pakistan’s agriculture sector, thus increasing the agricultural production in a major way. Moreover, due to the availability of electricity, services sector would also get a boost since it will be able to provide services for more work hours. These steps will contribute towards increasing Pakistan’s growth rate and exportable goods for trade and earning more national income and foreign exchange reserves.
With construction of the CPEC all the provinces of Pakistan will get connected with the corridor. This will multiply both the domestic and foreign trade and provide equal trade opportunities to all the provinces. This will also facilitate the movement of labour between all the provinces, providing cheaper labour to all enterprises and it will also provide an equal opportunity for employment to the people of all provinces. The interconnection of all the provinces through CPEC would also facilitate movement of people from one place to another which will encourage domestic tourism. Since CPEC would facilitate travelling from other regional countries to Pakistan, it would also encourage foreign tourists to visit Pakistan. Hence, Pakistan’s tourism industry would flourish and will serve as a source of earning foreign exchange reserves.
The completion of the CPEC and allied facilities would greatly help in enhancing employment opportunities in the country to the advantage of all the provinces. Right from the Khunjrab Pass till Gwadar, because of accelerated trade activities, the hotel industry would get a boost and many Pakistanis would get employed in providing services in hotels. Likewise, the employment opportunities in the transport sector would also increase. All such combined opportunities would greatly help in enhancing employment opportunities for the Pakistani youth, which at present is passing an idle life.
Due to the CPEC, frequent movement of people would take place from one province to another for employment and tourism. This would enable the people of poor areas of Pakistan to avail the opportunity of employment, thus increasing the household incomes that would contribute towards the welfare of the poor sections of the Pakistani society. Because of cheaper regional products being traded the poor sections of society would also be able to enjoy better amenities of life.
All above mentioned economic activities would enhance economic growth of Pakistan. An increase in the growth in national income would be a source of increasing individual incomes. While this would increase national consumption, it would also enable the people of Pakistan to save more and invest in the development projects. This would also add to the national production and growth. The foreign investment in the industrial sector of the country would also bring in the foreign technology. Moreover the CPEC would attract foreign investment in the mining sector and this would largely add to the national income and this sector would also develop to the optimum level.
The above discussed CPEC generated cycle of enhanced economic activity, increase in the production, trade, incomes, consumption, more saving and investment all would contribute towards Pakistan’s economic development in a major way. However, to achieve this objective the Pakistan Government would need to focus on quality construction and timely completion of the CPEC.