CDWP approves 132KV transmission line for Gwadar
The Central Development Working Party (CDWP) has approved a 132KV transmission line from Jiwani to Gwadar.
The CDWP meeting was convened under the chairmanship of Secretary Planning Syed Zafar Ali Shah, which approved 13 projects including the 132kV line for Gwadar, worth Rs34.8 billion.
As per details, the project namely the Construction of 2nd Circuit Stringing of 132KV, transmission line from Jiwani to Gwadar (94km), will be completed with Rs2,322.940 million. The 2nd Circuit Stringing of 132KV will be financed through the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP).
In the FY 2022-23 budget, the government has earmarked Rs83,101.262 million for various ongoing and new schemes in the power sector. PSDP is an important policy instrument aiming to achieve sustainable economic growth and socio-economic objectives of the government.
Gwadar relies on imported electricity from Iran and with the construction of the 132KV line, the port city will be connected to the National Grid for the first time.
The government is making all-out efforts to solve the electricity problem of Gwadar city at the earliest. Earlier this month, Pakistan and Iran signed an agreement to supply additional 100 megawatts of electricity to fulfill the electricity needs of Gwadar. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif during his visit to Gwadar last Friday stated that the contractor would be “mobilized within 15 days” to start work on importing electricity from Iran to the coastal areas of Balochistan. He also ordered the completion of the project “in three months” instead of the proposed six months, the deadline set by the government earlier.
Belt and Road initiative is moving strongly
A senior level tri service military delegation of Pakistan visited Peoples Republic of China from 9 to 12 June 2022.
A senior level tri service military delegation of Pakistan visited Peoples Republic of China from 9 to 12 June 2022. The delegation held wide ranging discussions with senior officials of Chinese military and other government departments. Apex Meeting was held on 12 June wherein Pakistani side was headed by Chief of Army Staff (COAS), General Qamar Javed Bajwa while Chinese side was led by General Zhang Youxia Vice Chairman Central Military Commission of China. Both sides discussed their perspectives on international and regional security situation, and expressed satisfaction on defence cooperation between the two countries. Pakistan and China reaffirmed their strategic partnership in challenging times and agreed to continue regular exchange of perspectives on issues of mutual interest. Both sides also vowed to enhance their training, technology and counterterrorism cooperation at tri service level.
Belt and Road initiative is moving strongly
Eastbay Expressway of Gwadar port in Pakistan opened to traffic
GWADAR, Pakistan, June 4 (Xinhua) — The inauguration ceremony of the China-aided Eastbay Expressway of Gwadar port was held on Friday in Gwadar city of Pakistan’s southwest Balochistan province.
As an important early harvest project under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the 19.49-km expressway was officially started in 2017 by the China Communications Construction Company, with an aim to meet the urgent need of the locals in Gwadar and promote the sustainable development of the area.
Addressing the ceremony, Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif thanked China for the grant and said that China has built a very high-quality expressway which links the port to the coastal highway ahead.
It will enhance connectivity and help the transportation of goods from the port all the way to the country’s southern port city of Karachi in the future, said the prime minister.
“Pakistan is determined to speed up the development of Gwadar,” Sharif said, adding that China has donated solar panels to thousands of families in Gwadar, aided the construction of a hospital and other livelihood infrastructures, and will fund a desalination plant.
On the same occasion, Pang Chunxue, charge d’affaires of the Chinese Embassy to Pakistan, said China attaches great importance to people’s livelihood in Gwadar, and is willing to continue promoting the development of Gwadar’s healthcare, education, vocational and technical personnel training and other livelihood fields.
Pang said the construction of the expressway aims to benefit the local people, and the concerns of local fishermen were fully considered in the design and construction.
China will strive to continue to help solve local people’s problems such as shortage of electricity and fresh water, and promote the construction of a smart, green and modern Gwadar Port, so that local people can share the high-quality development of the CPEC, Pang said.
“It is our joint efforts that ensured the successful delivery of this CPEC project in Gwadar.”
“When the New Gwadar International Airport is completed in the future, it will work with the Eastbay Expressway to promote Gwadar as a regional transportation hub and create a better life for the local people,” Pang added.
PM inaugurates road, development projects in Gwadar
PM broke ground for the Gwadar Seawater Desalination Plant by China Aid, Jingtal Gwadar Private Limited, Hangmei Lubricant Plant, Hangeng Agricultural Industrial Park, Gwadar Expo Centre and Gwadar Fertilizer Plant, besides distribution of 3,000 solar panels.
GWADAR: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif Friday inaugurated the Eastbay Expressway project, and performed ground-breaking of seven more development projects in Gwadar.
A component of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the six-lane Eastbay Expressway would connect the Gwadar Port with the Makran Coastal Highway, also providing a link to Karachi.
The prime minister, who unveiled the plaques of the projects, expressed dissatisfaction over the slow pace of work. He broke ground for the Gwadar Seawater Desalination Plant by China Aid, Jingtal Gwadar Private Limited, Hangmei Lubricant Plant, Hangeng Agricultural Industrial Park, Gwadar Expo Centre and Gwadar Fertilizer Plant, besides distribution of 3,000 solar panels.
He also took an overview of the development projects, including the under-construction Gwadar Airport, which was being built under a Chinese grant and faced delays in completion.
Shehbaz said a desalination plant would be installed and a hospital had been built for the people of Gwadar, while 3,200 solar panels would be distributed among the families there. He said instead of wasting billions on the water reservoirs, a desalination plant should have been installed to cope with the water needs of Gwadar.
The prime minister said in order to avoid any more delay in the projects, he had ordered to strictly follow the timelines. He promised that due to the silting, the depth of Gwadar sea port was reducing and instructed for dredging to allow the traffic of heavy ships.
He suggested a G2G model for installation of the desalination plant and called for initiating talks with the Chinese side without any delay. Proposing a model to address the issue of power supply to Gwadar, he said the government should award a contract to any private company to provide solar panels to the households and bank loans should be arranged for them to pay back.
Proposing a second model, the prime minister said a solar plant of 100-150 megawatt should be installed in Gwadar to provide off-grid power supply to the people, who would be paying to the company as electricity bills.
Shehbaz Sharif also announced that in the first phase, the federal government would provide 2,000 boat engines to the fishermen through balloting. He announced that the federal government would also allocate funds for establishment of a university in Gwadar to ensure its timely completion.
The prime minister said the federal government would enrol another 500,000 poor people as beneficiaries of the BISP, with 100pc cover to the poor people of Gwadar.
He asked Minister for Planning Ahsan Iqbal to hold comprehensive talks with Chinese investors and prepare a clear roadmap for the resolution of all issues. Minister for Narcotics Control Nawabzada Shahzain Bugti and special assistants Tariq Fatemi and Fahd Hussain also attended the meeting.
Separately, addressing the officers attending the Command and Staff Course at the Command and Staff College, Quetta, PM Shehbaz Sharif said that the armed forces of Pakistan were the guarantors of peace, internal and external security, and regional stability, besides contributing to the global peace efforts. He paid rich tribute to the achievements and sacrifices of Pakistan armed forces.
On arrival, he laid a wreath at the Shuhada Monument to pay homage to the martyrs of Pakistan, according to ISPR.The PM said that Pakistan’s successes in the war against terrorism were unparalleled and duly acknowledged by the world. He said the armed forces had always done a commendable job in service of the nation during natural calamities. The armed forces of Pakistan are a very important state institution and the pride of the nation, he reiterated.
PM said that the country’s defence was sacred and Pakistan’s security, sovereignty and integrity would be ensured at all costs.“The nation owes its freedom to monumental sacrifices of our heroes, our martyrs,” the prime minister remarked.
Leading The Way For Chinese Investment In Pakistan.
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif is reportedly proactively engaged in the resolution of issues facing the Chinese companies including those working in power sector projects under China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), well informed sources told Business Recorder.
Prime Minister Office, sources said, has convened a preparatory meeting on Monday (today) with all the concerned Ministries. PMO has asked the Ministries to provide a synopsis for the Prime Minister (one pager), a comprehensive brief and a copy of presentations and talking points.
Recently, Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives, Ahsan Iqbal held a meeting with the Chinese companies and heard their concerns in the presence of senior officials of relevant Ministries and issued directions for their early resolution.
Official documents reveal that the following Chinese Companies complained about delays in payments by CPPA-G and NTDC: (i) 1320MW Sahiwal IPP;(ii) 1320MW Port Qasim IPP;(iii) 1320MW China Hub IPP;(iv) 660MW Engro Thar lPP;(v) 300MW Zonergy IPP;(vi) 100MW UEP Wind Farm;(vii) 50MW Dawood Wind Farm;(viii) 50MW Sachal Wind Farm;(ix) 100MW China Three Gorges Wind Farm; and (x) Lahore-Matiari HVDC Transmission Line.
The companies stressed that the increase in fuel prices had worsened their liquidity situation, forcing them to shut down their plants.
Power Division stated that 86 per cent of the bills had been paid and efforts were under way to make further payments to the IPPs.
Power Division will expedite action for payment of outstanding amount.
Insiders claim that the outstanding payables to Chinese IPPs have reached over Rs 350 billion.
Another key issue highlighted during meeting was the delay in opening of revolving account for CEPC IPPs. The following companies raised the issue stating that the non-fulfilment of this contractual obligation was creating difficulties for them: (i) 1320MW Sahiwal IPP ;(ii) 1320MW Port Qasim IPP;(iii) 1320MW China Hub IPP;(iv) 300 MW Zonergy IPP;(v) 660MW Engro Thar IPP;(vi) 100MW China Three Gorges Wind Farm.
The meeting decided that Power Division and Finance Division will expedite action for a final decision on opening of Revolving Account.
According to sources, Finance Division approached Power Division a couple of days ago and pressed for resolution of this issue pending since long.
The following project raised the mater of issues in Financial Close due to no clearance from Sinosure: (i) 1320MW TCB-1; (ii) 300MW Gwadar power plant; (iii) 700MW Azad Pattan HPP; and (iv) 1124MW Kohala HPP. It was decided that this matter will be raised with Chinese embassy.
On the issue of extension in LoS of Azad Pattan HPP and RCOD of 1320 MW TCB-1, the meeting decided that PPIB and CPPA-G Boards will consider the proposed extension of the LoS for Azad Pattan HPP in their upcoming meetings within a month’s time.
The following companies agitated the matter of increase of Sales Tax on imports from 0% to 17%o in Supplementary Finance Act 2021- 2022:(i) 700MW Azad Pattan HPP ;(ii) 1124 MW Kohala HPP;(iii) 884MW Suki Kinari HPP;(iv) I320 MW TCB-I;(v) 300MW Gwadar IPP;(vi) 330MW TEL;( and (vii) 330MW Thal Nova. Power Division has been directed to take this issue with the FBR.
The meeting decided that the issue of increase in WHT on local shareholders dividends for IPPs from 7.5% to 25 % will also be raised with FBR.
M/s China Hub Power 1320MW and Engro Thar Power Plant 660MW agitated the matter of raising tariff. NEPRA asked the companies to provide required information for final decision.
The following companies suggested that GOP may consider the central purchasing of imported coal for efficient negotiation; (i) 1320MW Sahiwal IPPs; (ii) l320MW Port Qasim IPP; and (iii) 1320MW China Hub IPP. Deputy Chairman Planning Commission (DCPC) stated that the suggestion may be considered by the relevant authorities.
M/s Pakistan Matiari-Lahore Transmission Line Company agitated that NTDC is in default to solve ROW of drainage outlet of Matiari Converter Station since last three years. Power Division will take up the matter with NTDC for resolution.
M/s Hydro China Dawood Wind Power Project agitated the issue of power curtailment due to single circuit 132KV single circuit transmission line instead of double circuit l32KV transmission line.
Power Division explained that Gharo Double Circuit 132KV Transmission Line is under construction. The issue will be settled after completion of this double circuit line.
The representative of CSCEC, the contractor for Multan-Sukkur motorway (M5), raised the matter of withholding of substantial amount by NHA on various grounds, which should be released without linking them to the issues pending with DAB.
Contractor has proposed amicable settlement of all claims/ disputes through Third Party instead of the lengthy arbitration/ legal process. Ministry of Communications will scale up its efforts to resolve the outstanding issues between NHA and the contractor. It was also decided that NHA and the contractor would hold a meeting within a week and proposed a way forward for amicable settlement as per contract.
The representative of CRBC, the Contractor of Havelian-Thakot, complained of contractual disputes between NHA and the contractor. Chinese Embassy and contractor have proposed that the matters pending with DAB since July 2020 may be resolved through amicable settlement, to avoid lengthy legal process.
The representative of CREC, the Chinese company nominated by Government of China as the lead for Mian Line-1, raised the matter of project cost approved by the Planning Commission, being lower than the cost worked out in the feasibility study. It was suggested that the project may be reviewed.
Commercial Councillor of Chinese Embassy in Pakistan was requested to take up the matter with NDRC & MoFCom for initiation of the bidding process and finalization of term sheet for financing of Package-l of the project.
The representative of CRBC stressed on the timely completion of the feasibility study of Realignment of KKH Phase-ll (Thakot-Raikot section) which will be merged to construction of dams. It was decided that the technical working group to finalize the ToRs of the feasibility study of project within one week. MoPD&S will convene a meeting under the chairmanship of the Minister to discuss the project in detail.
Multiple Chinese companies raised issues relating to delay in issuance of visas, as well as, problems relating to conversion of business visas into work visas for Chinese workers of CPEC projects.
Chinese companies were requested to share lists of their workers requiring conversion of business visas into work visas. Ministry of Interior (MoI) will process the case for permission to convert all such Business visas to work visas.
China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) requested additional favourable policies for CPEC SEZs to make them more competitive in the region. However, BoI stated that incentives in place for SEZs are already competitive enough and more incentives will create discrimination for other investors.
CRBC, the Chinese company working on Karachi Coastal Comprehensive Development Zone Project (KCCDZ), requested signing of Investment Framework Agreement for the project so that the subsequent works could be carried out without any further delay.
BoI has been directed to hold a meeting with all stakeholders and submit a position paper to the Minister PD&SI.
COPHCL raised the issue of hinterland connectivity of Gwadar Port to make the port commercially viable with respect to KPT and Port and Port Qasim.
NHA will hold a meeting with COPHCL/ GPA and advise them of the possible economic transportation route for the cargo from Gwadar to up country.
COPHCL urged Government of Pakistan to import cargoes of Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) through Gwadar Port. Ministry of Commerce informed that imports via Gwadar Port will add further costs which cannot be borne by TCP. Ministry of Commerce will hold a meeting with COPHCL/ GPA to assess the viability of import of TCP cargoes via Gwadar and suggest measures to increase its viability.
COPHCL raised the issue of exemption of Gwadar Free Zone from Foreign Exchange Regulation Act, l947. The proposal was presented directly to SBP by the Bank of China and COPHCL. Response on draft proposal for provision of commercial transaction of foreign currency (RMB) in Gwadar Free Zone will be obtained from SBP through Ministry of Finance.
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Gwadar Port Fully Operational, All Chinese Enterprises Operating As Normal: COPHC
ISLAMABAD, May 17 (Gwadar Pro)- China Overseas Ports Holding Company Pakistan (Pvt.) Ltd. vehemently rejected baseless news and propaganda circulating on social media regarding the closure of Chinese businesses in Gwadar, Balochistan. COPHC stated that all Chinese enterprises were operational as normal.
Earlier, some propagandists spread false news on social media that Chinese investors started withdrawing their money and major companies like HK Sons have been closed down.
COPHC responded in a Twitter post and said “We condemn baseless news and misinformation propaganda circulating on social media networks regarding the closure of HK Sons. HK Sons and all other enterprises in Gwadar Free Zone continue their operations with normalcy,” and the company added “HK Sons Company is one of the first investors operating in Gwadar Free Zone. The Company has been providing employment opportunities for the locals and will continue to do so in the coming days for win-win cooperation.”
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New Government and CPEC
Editor’s note: The writer is Director of Institute of Peace and Diplomatic Studies, Pakistan. The article reflects the author’s opinions.
Shahbaz Sharif took oath as the new head of government on 12th April as the 23rd Prime Minister of Pakistan at a ceremony where Sadiq Sanjrani, acting President and Chairman Senate of Pakistan administered the oath. While speaking to the parliament, new Prime Minister said that his government would speed up the high-quality construction of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, making it a symbol of China-Pakistan friendship.
CPEC lives in the heart of the people of Pakistan where no matter who rules the country, CPEC will remain at the top priority. Due to this fate-changing China-Pakistan cooperation on CPEC, the life of Pakistani people, especially at grassroots level, has been not only improved but transformed towards a better direction. The entire political spectrum including the leading political parties has a strong consensus for standing together on CPEC.
While reacting on the new appointment, China appreciates the new Prime Minister’s remarks and is ready to work with Pakistan to continue to further advance the high-quality development of CPEC.
There is an urge to practically expand the bilateral cooperation and build CPEC together for shared benefits. There is also a desire from both sides to accelerate the building of closer China-Pakistan ties to create a community of shared future in this new era and work together to promote the well-being of the two peoples.
At the advent of CPEC in 2015, Pakistan Muslim League (N) was ruling in Islamabad with the vast majority. During the reign of Nawaz Sharif, many long-term communications and energy projects under CPEC made huge progress. It is also important to note that when Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif was Chief Minister of Punjab, a province with a solid industrial and agriculture base, he worked on CPEC projects at phenomenal speed. There is an expectation that this time he will deliver at the national level with the same enthusiasm and speed.
CPEC has been so entrenched in the national roots of Pakistan that no government can change it. It is a state-to-state strong partnership. Government and people’s representation may change at the national level, and there may be slight changes in the ways of implementation; however, the basic normative model and structures will remain the same. CPEC holds a strong ground for the essential cooperation between Pakistan and China.
Over all these years, the defining moments in the history of relations helped both sides thwart the test of times with grounded support through prudence and foresightedness shared by Beijing and Islamabad. Our ancestors’ seeds of friendship sowed more than decades ago have evolved into a perfectly developed tree with many branches of benevolence and fruits growing all around. The roots are vivid in our hearts and on our lands.
Pakistan-China relations are based on the strength of the shared belief in peace and prosperity and beyond any politics or change of governments. The level of relationship that both Pakistan and China enjoy is beyond time and space, having the strength and resilience to face and battle any storm together.
CPEC is the epitome of the China-Pakistan relations and is considered as a model for the other countries to follow. With the change of government in Pakistan, there would not be any change in the level of friendship. Instead, it will grow manifold.
The only constant change is the stronger Pakistan-China ties. Over these years, there has been a constant pattern of strengthening resolve to build closer ties with China by all kinds of ideological regimes in Pakistan. In Pakistan’s chequered history of democracy, China has always remained a source of strength and inspiration.
With the multibillion-dollar CPEC in the extraordinary second phase that focuses on agriculture, industry, and socio-economic development, Pakistan has a bright and robust future. The incumbent government will continue to focus on these projects and build and further capitalize on them to bring peace and prosperity to the country.
Muhammad Asif Noor, the writer is Founder Director- Center for BRI and China Studies and Founder Friends of BRI Forum- Institute of Peace and Diplomatic Studies.
Belt and Road initiative is moving strongly
China to open Khunjerab border from April 1
After keeping the only land route between Pakistan and China closed for over two years following the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic, China has finally announced to open the Khunjerab border from April 1, 2022 for trade activities.
According to a circular issued by Foreign Affairs office of Kashgar administration, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of China on March 24, 2022, the Hongqi Lafu port (Khunjerab dry port) would officially be opened next month. “In accordance with the agreement between the government of Pakistan and China on border crossing and their management system signed on May 22, 2013, CMB Hongqi Lafu Suster port will officially be opened on April 1, 2022,” the circular said.
However, as per the circular all inspection units and foreign related enterprises are directed to make preparations in accordance with the port epidemic prevention and control requirements.
“Since the circular has not mention whether the border will be opened for two sides or one side we are still not clear about the full opening of the border for bilateral trade,” said Mr Mushtaq an office bearer of Gilgit Chamber of Commerce adding that the strict compliance of Covid-19 related SOPs as mentioned in the circular, had facilitated only one side trade on this route previously.
According to him, the border should be opened for all kinds of trade from both sides as the trade on this route is halted for over two years badly affecting the importers/exporters/traders of this route. The Khunjerab border has remained closed for routine trade since December 2019.
As per an official at the Ministry of Commerce, Adviser to PM on Commerce and Investment Abdul Razak Dawood has taken up the matter with Chinese officials and subsequent meetings with the Chinese ambassador in Islamabad were planned for discussing the matter.
Pakistan had previously asked China to reopen the border to facilitate cross-border trade and people-to-people exchanges. In a letter sent to the Embassy of China in Pakistan, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had stated that the border was closed on December 1, 2019 as per schedule due to the winter season, while its opening on April 1, 2020 was postponed due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“To support the lives and livelihood of the local population on both sides of the border, it is imperative that regular cross-border trade and P2P exchanges may be resumed. Therefore, the border may be opened from April 1,” the ministry stated, adding “the esteemed embassy is requested to take up the matter with relevant quarters to open the border on the said date for smooth and regular cross-border movement.”
Earlier, following Pakistan’s persistent requests, China had agreed to open the Khunjerab border for trade on May 1, 2021 with stiff conditions in view of the Covid-19 situation. However, the neighboring country had not opened the border despite all arrangements made on Pakistan’s side.
After a meeting at the Ministry of Commerce, China again promised to allow goods to cross the border by July 10, for only cargo containers, leaving the goods near the border from where the same would be lifted by Pakistani importers.
As per a letter issued in April, 2021 the Chinese government had informed that their exporters would leave the goods on a specific location of Pakistan’s side of the border from where importers may receive them after following the SOPs.
Similarly, exporters would also leave their goods at the same location which buyers from China would receive after completion of the same process on their side of the border. Personnel and the vehicles of both parties were directed to work in different time frames to avoid direct contact.
In this regard, loading and unloading, dropping and hanging up the trailer was to be done separately when the cargo inspection channel was opened. However these arrangements could also not work for unknown reasons.
It may be mentioned here that apart from the prolonged closure of border for Covid-19 issue, the China-Pakistan border usually remains closed from December 1 till March 31 every year due to severe weather conditions, as per the bilateral agreement. For the rest of the year, however, the border remains open for two-way movement of passengers as well as transportation of goods and cargo.