REALIZING the seriousness of the issue, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, on Monday, directed the authorities concerned to release immediately Rs.
50 billion to Chinese Independent Power Producers (IPPs) as the first instalment out of outstanding dues of Rs.340 billion.
He also had an extensive interaction with chief executive officers (CEOs) of Chinese companies working on China-Pakistan Energy Corridor (CPEC) projects and issued on-the-spot orders to resolve complaints of project officials in a bid to avoid delay in their completion.
Chinese have long been demanding opening of a revolving account as envisaged under CPEC because dues piled up to Rs.340 billion due to delay in payments during the last four years.
This was one of the main irritants in the smooth execution of energy sector projects under the CPEC and hopefully, apart from release of Rs.50 billion tranche, the Government would also take necessary measures to resolve the issue on a sustainable basis.
The very fact that CEOs of Chinese companies heaped complaints about uncalled-for delay in the execution of almost all projects under the framework of CPEC during the last three and a half years is confirmation of reports that appeared repeatedly during PTI tenure that the previous government showed lacklustre interest in the implementation of all CPEC projects.
In fact, immediately after coming into power a PTI cabinet member proposed a moratorium on the initiative saying all projects could be eligible for suspension in a review to be conducted under the orders of the (then) Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Under pressure of the public opinion, the Government did not officially announce a moratorium but dragged feet on all projects and the resultant delay deprived people of Pakistan of the socio-economic benefits of these projects.
In this backdrop, the satisfaction expressed by representatives of the Chinese companies over measures taken by the coalition government to expedite work on projects is reflective of the restoration of the trust of the Chinese side.
They also hoped work on CPEC projects would be carried out and completed on “Pakistan Speed” now.
We hope Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif would personally monitor progress of work on a regular basis so that all impediments are removed in the way of completion of different projects, especially those facing politically motivated delays.