ISLAMABAD: With the General Election 2018 around the corner, almost all major political parties have come up with their respective election manifestos featuring their strategies to take the country forward on the road of economic progress and prosperity.
Pakistan Today on Thursday delved into the election manifestos of three major political parties – Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) to understand how each plans to further the flagship China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CEPC).
PTI, in its manifesto, has come up with a comprehensive plan to carry forward the baton left by the outgoing PML-N to fully implement CPEC, closely followed by the PML-N’s agenda to further the progress. Surprisingly, PPP lags in its strategy to implement CPEC despite party’s President Asif Zardari having championed the cause of CPEC, claiming that he had negotiated with his Chinese counterpart to launch the corridor while being President of Pakistan in 2013.
PML-N TO CARRY FORWARD CPEC
Pakistan is greatly indebted to China for CPEC which is bound to produce huge economic benefits for all provinces through the Special Industrial Zones (SEZs) and other economic activities that are expected to help all sectors of national economy, PML-N’s manifesto notes.
“One Belt One Road (OBOR) launching provided Pakistan with an opportunity for game-changing economic strategy. PML-N government benefited from this golden opportunity and made Pakistan a part of China’s OBOR initiative to launching CPEC, which diversified the exemplary Pakistan-China friendship,” says the PML-N manifesto.
The party believes that the primary objective of CPEC was increasing Pakistan-China cooperation in energy and transport infrastructure megaprojects and Gwadar Port.
“The PML-N government with the Chinese government’s funding launched development projects of $50 billion under the CPEC. Most of these projects have been completed by the PML-N government while the rest of projects would be completed during the party’s next tenure. The PML-N in its upcoming tenure would intensify development projects and CPEC infrastructure, employment and business opportunities under CPEC,” the manifesto says.
Besides CPEC, the PML-N led government will also develop local resources, the latest modern technologies and industrial clusters which could help generate employment opportunities and enhance exports, the manifesto adds.
“The PML-N government would also facilitate cooperation between China’s investment and industrial sectors with Pakistani business corporations. Moreover, the PML-N government would also ensure the provision of capital for setting up new businesses with the Chinese government and Pakistani banks,” PML-N says in its manifesto.
The political party believes that a PML-N government would make Pakistan a centre for industrial and business opportunities and Pakistan would become the 20th major economic force of the world by the year 2030 by attracting business opportunities.
PTI’S CPEC PLAN
Among other plans and strategies set out by Imran Khan’s political party, in its election manifesto, PTI has vowed to create solid two-way linkages with China and promote an indigenous resource focused growth strategy to leverage trade infrastructure of CPEC and OBOR projects.
“CPEC is Pakistan’s golden opportunity to resurface and complete its economic turnaround. Even though CPEC is in its inception phase, it is imperative for us to establish a solid and transparent foundation for a truly empowering corridor with two-way linkages,” PTI manifesto reads.
Currently, Pakistan is not fully benefiting from CPEC related investments due to insufficient transfer of knowledge and capabilities, lesser partnerships with local businesses and our high dependence on imports of goods and services from China, the manifesto highlighted, adding that PTI vows to ensure the completion of CPEC but encourage a shift towards partnerships for project completion.
The manifesto adds, “We will utilise expertise from China to supplement domestic manufacturing capabilities and enhance yields in agriculture. We will create more opportunities to promote local value-addition through Joint Ventures and by offering incentives for value-added exports”.
PTI also plans to facilitate the integration of Pakistani manufacturers in global value chains besides ensuring that local Pakistani businesses are fully involved in the implementation of CPEC projects and policies. “We will improve and implement State Bank of Pakistan’s (SBP) National Financial Inclusion Strategy, drastically increase access to finance, increase deposit base of banks and establish an infrastructure lending bank for large projects”.
PTI also wishes to enhance the “underrepresentation” of Gilgit Baltistan in CPEC. The party recognises the commitment of the people of Gilgit Baltistan (GB) to Pakistan, which has been exemplary and is reflected in their sacrifices and it will ensure that the people of GB get their due political and economic rights.
“Gilgit Baltistan suffers from myriad issues, ranging from lack of economic development, underrepresentation in CPEC and a centralised bureaucracy coupled with an already disempowered legislative assembly… We will boost the local economy with strategic investments in tourism, minerals and renewable energy. We will provide GB with solid opportunities in CPEC and ensure local participation,” the party claims.
PPP’S CPEC STRATEGY
PPP in its manifesto says that PPP spearheaded a quantum leap forward by placing Pakistan as a key player in China’s OBOR initiative and paving the way for CPEC.
“We recognise the need to protect the corridor from external threats, including terrorism and hostile, subversive elements. We also recognise that Pakistan’s public capacity to undertake CPEC is linked to pushing through crucial reforms in the energy sector, improving public sector capacity, streamlining tariff structures, and clearing regulatory tangles,” the manifesto says.
The political party believes that if properly realised the CPEC-Plus vision will be a game-changer that can help transform Pakistan’s economic landscape in the way of development, growth, jobs, infrastructure and trade while enhancing Pakistan’s strategic clout. PPP pledges to deliver on these fronts to make CPEC an effective driver of both development and stability in the region.
“We pledge to redouble our efforts to establish and enable favourable regimes for Free-Trade Agreements (FTAs), comprehensive economic partnerships, financial and banking systems, trans-regional and intraregional energy supply, energy security arrangements, digital connections and secure transport and freight corridors. We will encourage discussions with Moscow and Beijing to locate and identify new nodes of convergence that can possibly help bring CPEC activities in line with Russia’s own vision for a Eurasian Economic Union,” the party’s manifesto concludes.