The Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) formally approved the Long Term Plan (LTP) of the corridor at a signing ceremony held on Tuesday, after the conclusion of 7th JCC meeting.
The agreement was signed between the top officials of Pakistan and China, Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal told media in a press talk after the meeting.
Ahsan Iqbal said the LTP, that was under the evaluation process for the last several months, had now been given formal approval by the JCC.
He said all concerned stakeholders from both China and Pakistan were consulted in preparing the LTP. “The Long Term Plan (2017-30) envisages key areas of bilateral cooperation in facilitating and financing the projects under CPEC over the next 13 years,” he added.
Ahsan Iqbal said that the long term plan would expand the scope of cooperation in various new areas, including cooperation in social sectors along with the economic fields.
The meeting was jointly presided over by Ahsan Iqbal and his Chinese counterpart, and was attended by around 150 officials from Pakistan and China along with chief ministers of all the provinces and the prime minister of AJK.
The representatives of private sector, including trader and industry chambers, also participated in the meeting for the first time.
The minister informed that the JCC also cleared Karachi Circular Railway project. Its feasibility will be reviewed by a Chinese working group which would give the final approval of the feasibility report.
He said the financing agreement for Main Line One (ML-1) project, to upgrade the railway line from Karachi to Peshawar, would also be finalized within three months. Ahsan Iqbal said that the JCC had also formed a working group to launch agriculture projects aimed at producing more value added agricultural products, by utilizing Chinese technology in this sector.
The JCC also accorded approval for implementation of all infrastructure projects that were approved in the 6th JCC held in Beijing last year.
“The JCC cleared all projects in infrastructure sectors of which feasibility report was completed, however, the projects having incomplete feasibility study would be imparted formal approval in the next JCC meeting,” he remarked.
The minister informed that establishment of nine industrial zones, one each in all four provinces, Gilgit Baltistan, Azad Jammu and Kashmir, FATA, and Islamabad also came under consideration in the meeting. It was decided that its approval would be made after evaluation of feasibility studies of all the zones by the Chinese side.
Regarding projects in Gwadar, the minister said that tomorrow (Wednesday) the Prime Minister would inaugurate the Eastbay Expressway, which is a 19 kilometer long main artery linking Gwadar port to the main highway.
He informed that after completion of design, work on Gwadar airport (to be funded by Chinese grant) is likely to be initiated in next few months.
Ahsan Iqbal said the two sides also deliberated upon the security and taxation issues of the CPEC projects. The JCC also accorded approval for two hydro power projects (100MW and 80 MW) in Gilgit Baltistan while work on laying fiber optic cable has been completed, which will help Gilgit Baltistan connect with the rest of the world.
About private sector’s representation, the minister said that it had been given to private sector in 7th JCC meeting, which was a game changer not only for Pakistan but for entire region.
The minister announced that both countries would organize exchange of trade and business delegations to speed up the pace of project. He underlined the need for expansion in the administrative structure and scope of cooperation in CPEC.