Pakistan PM assures of expeditious progress on CPEC projects – Times of India


ISLAMABAD: Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan said on Thursday that his government will expedite work on the $60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects despite Covid-19 related problems.
Addressing a ceremony in Islamabad to mark the inauguration of a 600 kilovolt (kV) transmission line under the CPEC running between Matiari and Lahore, Khan pointed out that the pandemic had stalled communications in many areas, led to travel bans and affected supply chains across the world.
“The situation is improving and progress will again be visible on the CPEC-related projects,” he said.
Khan said the scope of the corridor project was being expanded from power generation and road infrastructure projects to cooperation in the areas of industries and agriculture, which will help Pakistan reduce the debt burden through wealth creation.
He said that the Matiari-Lahore transmission line was an 886 kilometer long state of the art transmission line that would help reduce power losses.
Speaking on the occasion, Chinese ambassador to Pakistan Nong Rong said the CPEC has brought investment of $25.4 billion and created 75,000 jobs, making a significant contribution to the socio-economic development of the country.
He said the Matiari-Lahore transmission line will realise the safety and reliability of the grid system, optimise energy distribution of the entire country and lower the electricity cost.
Last week, Khan in an interview with the Newsweek said that the Covid-19 pandemic may have slowed down the progress of the CPEC project but it was progressing ahead.
“China had already invested around 25 billion dollars under the umbrella of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)”, and that projects worth USD 20 billion were under implementation, he said, adding that “projects worth a further $25 billion are in the pipeline”.
The CPEC, which connects Gwadar Port in Balochistan with China’s Xinjiang province, is the flagship project of Chinese President Xi Jinping‘s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Originally valued at $46 billion, the CPEC projects were worth $62 billion as of 2017.
The Belt and Road Initiative aims to link southeast Asia, central Asia, the Gulf region, Africa and Europe with a network of land and sea route.
India, the US and several other countries have been highlighting the concerns over China’s ambitious BRI projects which may leave a number of smaller countries in debt traps. The concerns grew louder after China took over Sri Lanka’s Hambantota port on a 99-year lease.

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