Islamabad: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has directed authorities to expedite work on half a dozen projects of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that have been facing significant delays. On Monday, Khan took a detailed briefing on the delayed energy and infrastructure projects of the multi-billion dollar CPEC, reports The Express Tribune.
The strategic initiative came to almost a grinding halt during past one year due to reservations expressed by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) cabinet and enhanced fiscal controls under the $6 billion International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme. The change in the government's priorities has also put the jobs of around 50 employees at stake who are currently working under CPEC Support Secretariat Project and CPEC Centre of Excellence.
The IMF has placed a ceiling on the amount of the stock of the government guarantees that cannot exceed 1.6 trillion Pakistani rupees by the end of this fiscal year and there is also continuous ban on accumulation of external public payment arrears by the government.
These restrictions have affected the the government's ability to contract a big project like mainline-I project of the CPEC, said sources in the Finance Ministry. The sources said that the Prime Minister expressed resolve to address all the pending issues that have delayed implementation of the CPEC and asked the bureaucracy to address the bottlenecks at the earliest.
The $60 billion CPEC is a key project of Beijing's Belt and Road initiative that aims to connect Asia, Africa and Europe through a vast network of highways, rail lines and sea lanes. The multi-billion dollar corridor connects the Chinese city of Kashgar with Pakistan's Gwadar port on the Arabian Sea. India sternly opposes the CPEC, a key artery of the Belt and Road project that cuts through Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, New Delhi's raison d'etre for staying away from the trillion-dollar connectivity scheme.