Pakistan establishes CPEC Authority
President of Pakistan Dr Arif Alvi has promulgated an ordinance for the establishment of the 'China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Authority (CPECA)', Radio Pakistan reported on October 8, 2019. It was a long-awaited decision as a few years back it was decided to establish such a high-level authority, with the highest autonomy and powers, to get expected results out of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
Pakistan is facing its worst economic crisis as the foreign debt has crossed $100 billion. A cut in foreign remittance and reduced export has been seen in the last couple of years, which has aggregated the crisis further. Pakistan had to approach the IMF for a bailout package and signed a 39-month restructuring program. Under this scenario, CPEC is considered as vital as oxygen for Pakistan's ailing economy.
As per the report, CPEC Authority is aimed at "accelerating the pace of CPEC-related activities, find new drives of growth, unlock the potential of the interlinked production network and global value chains through regional and global connectivity". It will cut off some of the bureaucratic hurdles and facilitate coordination among various ministries and departments, paving ways for smooth execution of CPEC projects.
Pakistan has never been involved in such a mega initiative and has no such previous experience. Due to lack of experience and capacity, poor planning, and shortage of requisite human resources, Pakistan has struggled to tap the full potential of CPEC. Nevertheless the progress of CPEC projects has been satisfactory, and most of the early harvest projects are already complete or nearly complete. The fruits of completed projects are being felt in the society, as power cuts have either completely stopped or reduced to almost zero. The network of motorways and highways are playing a very important role in the transportation industry, and ultimately contributing toward the socio-economic development of the nation. A couple of years back, the GDP grew from 4.5 percent to 5.7 percent due to the CPEC initiatives.
In August, Prime Minister Imran Khan announced that the government was forming CPECA to ensure the timely completion of the corridor's projects. He had said that CPECA would help ensure coordination among the departments concerned.
"The completion of CPEC will not only benefit Pakistan and China but also the entire region," Khan had said, adding that the timely completion of CPEC projects was the top-most priority of the government and CPEC is a clear example of joint efforts and partnership between Pakistan and China. There are complete consensus and harmony between the two nations.
The president's promulgation of the ordinance for establishing CPECA coincides with Khan's visit to Beijing from October 7-9, 2019. Khan was accompanied by a high-level delegation comprising important members of his cabinet. His visit included addressing the China-Pakistan business forum and CPEC was a major agenda. It has further strengthened the ideal existing understanding between the two countries.
Pakistan's Minister of Planning, Development and Reforms Khusro Bakhtiar said: "There will be meaningful engagement on all aspects of China-Pakistan relations during the visit," expressing the hope that it would take CPEC cooperation to new heights so that benefits of Pakistan's economic progress could reach the people at the earliest. Pakistan is ready for the second phase of CPEC, where the social sector, agriculture and special economic zones will be the focus of rapid development of the economy. It will provide quick relief to the common man in the society.
It is expected that the establishment of the CPEC Authority will facilitate Chinese and Pakistani sides to expedite the projects and smooth execution. It will be instrumental in widening and speeding up of projects under CPEC. It will be a catalyst for the revival of Pakistan's economy and relief to the common man in Pakistan.
Pakistan is committed to making CPEC a success story and role model for the rest of the world. It is the flagship project and promises a far-reaching impact.
Zamir Ahmed Awan is a sinologist and non-resident fellow at the Center for China and Globalization.
The opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not represent the views of China Daily and China Daily website.