Landmark initiatives, projects announced Sukkur-Multan Motorway formally inaugurated; Chinese companies to invest in medical, steel, power & housing sectors

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Zubair Qureshi

Islamabad

Federal Minister for Planning, Development & Reform Makhdum Khusro Bakhtiar along with Vice Chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) Ning Jizhe announced a number of landmark initiatives and projects agreed during the Joint Cooperation Committee meeting Tuesday regarding Phase II of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) terming the project an ongoing vehicle of growth for Pakistan having promise and prosperity for the generations to come.
During the proceedings, a ceremony was held wherein Multan-Sukkur Motorway (M-5) of the eastern corridor was inaugurated. Gwadar Master Plan was also approved and signed.
The ceremony also witnessed the signing of two MoUs; one between All China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU) and Ministry of Planning for further strengthening the worker exchanges and another on Healthcare between Ministry of Health and (Research Development International (RDI).
Minister for Communication Murad Saeed, Chief Minister Balochistan Jam Kamal Khan, Chief Minister KP Mahmood Khan, Chief Minister GB Hafiz Hafeez-ur-Rehman, Ambassador of China to Pakistan Yao Jing and his Pakistani counterpart in Beijing Naghmana A Hashmi, senior officials of the Planning Commission, Commerce Ministry and other ministries besides over 100 delegates from China attended the 9th JCC meeting that lasted for over seven hours.
Addressing a press conference after the meeting, Khusro Bakhtiar said it was agreed by the both sides that since the phase I of the CPEC is almost over it is time to move ahead in new directions from economic and industrial to energy and socio-economic growth.
The Minister said that remaining portion of the Eastern corridor from Sukkur to Hyderabad (M6) will be completed in BOT mode under the umbrella of Public Private Partnership and urged Chinese companies to take active part in the bidding process. He recommended that JCC accords priority to remaining portion Western corridor and the provincial projects proposed in previous JCCs. This year in March, the Zhob–Quetta section of the Western Corridor was inaugurated and now the remaining portion of DI–Khan–Zhob is a priority for the Government of Pakistan.
He highlighted that ML-1 is also a top priority project for Pakistan and the stage is set to take the discussion to next level and formulate a Joint project financing group to discuss the modalities. He added that the Government has established CPEC Authority which will work as a one window for all CPEC related issues so that we can fasten the pace of the projects and remove all bottle necks for efficient implementation of the projects.
Moreover, agriculture sector like processing and marketing of production, socio economic development projects under already agreed and released US$1 billion support by China were also discussed during the meeting.
Expressing gratitude to the Pakistani government for the warm welcome, VC NDRC Ning Jizhe said that delegation from China for 9th JCC is the biggest as compared to previous delegations which shows commitment of China to take cooperation with Pakistan to new heights.
He stated that high consideration will be given to socio-economic and industrial cooperation in the second phase of CPEC. He underscored that bilateral economic cooperation will proceed as planned for the mutual benefit of both brotherly countries.
Speaking briefly on the occasion, Ambassador Yao Jing said 9th JCC meeting has set new directions for the Phase II of CPEC and China will now besides the conventional sectors, invest in blue economy, fisheries, emerging technologies, oil & gas, vocational institutes and smart schools.
China is happy and satisfied with the implementation and deliverables of the CPEC, said the ambassador and hoped in the guidelines of the JCC meeting, projects under the Phase II of the CPEC would also meet completion. A documentary showcasing the progress on CPEC was also aired during the 9th JCC.