MINISTER for Planning and Development, Asad Umar, on Wednesday said Pakistan did not have a “China debt” problem pertaining to loan financing from the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project.
At a news conference in Islamabad, he referred to a recent report by a US-based international development research lab, AidData and said Pakistan had a debt servicing and debt sustainability challenge but stressed that “we do not have a China debt problem.”
The US report was surely part of the pointed and malicious propaganda against an initiative that has the demonstrated potential of changing the fate of people of Pakistan.
The said report repeated arguments that were advanced by some US officials in the past in their bid to dissuade Pakistan from pursuing the project.
The report raised four main issues about CPEC: lack of transparency, imposition of secret loans on Pakistan, loans being expensive and Pakistan’s debt rising to a dangerous level because of CPEC.
There is absolutely no substance in the perception of lack of transparency as each and every project under the framework of the CPEC was first internally discussed in a threadbare manner by relevant ministries and departments and the information was exchanged by the two countries besides parliamentary oversight.
It is also a fact that there was a dedicated website on CPEC, which contains exhaustive information about different projects, which are also open to visits by neutral observers and media.
The Minister also rightly pointed out that CPEC loans for private power projects were comparatively cheaper than loans from other international agencies such as the World Bank or the Asian Development Bank. Loans for infrastructure projects were taken at a concessional rate of two percent interest.
He rubbished the notion that Pakistan’s debt reached to a dangerous level due to CPEC saying it comprised just ten percent of the country’s general debt.
That Pakistan and China have nothing to hide in relation to CPEC is also evident from the fact that the two countries have repeatedly been urging other countries to join the initiative for mutual good.