“Engaging under-developed regions in CPEC, a key domestic test for upcoming PTI government”


CPEC Monthly Monitor – July 2018

(Click here to read complete monitor)

The new government likely to be formed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) values CPEC as much importance as its predecessor. It is to be seen if it focuses on the under-developed regions, which the party’s manifesto promised will be included in CPEC.

Ever since the July 25 elections, which brought into lead, the erstwhile opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, there are speculations as to what direction the CPEC will take. Its critics reminded how PTI agitated on the streets of Islamabad, way back in 2015 when the Chinese President Xi Jinping was to visit Pakistan to sign CPEC projects. Even now, the former ruling party Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz members says that the PTI’s sit ins, followed by subsequent litigation on at least one major project in Lahore, caused delay in the execution.

Now that the PTI has come into power, all eyes are set on them. Chances are that PTI will continue on the CPEC with same zeal as its predecessor. PTI leader Imran Khan has emphasized on economic development of Pakistan, under the project. In his victory speech, on the next day after the elections, Khan mentioned China more than once, calling for emulating it to eliminate poverty from the country. China too reciprocated with congratulating Pakistan and even announcing a bailout package for the country.

In any case, as things stand today, almost all parties of the country support CPEC. This was also evident from their election manifestos; the PPP even claimed the credit for conceptualizing CPEC.

These parties mostly differ on the prioritization of certain projects over others, which essentially boil down to the prioritization of certain regions over others. And that remains a test for the new PTI government too.

Among the mainstream parties, PTI, in its 2018 manifesto, has clearly promised of ensuring participation of local population mainly of GilgitBaltistan (GB) and Gwadar under CPEC.Similarly, one of its potential ally in Balochistan, BalochistanAwami Party (BAP), which otherwise has no nationalistic streak, has aggrieved of giving zilch to the province. PTI’s own leaders in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa lobbied extensively for installing projects in the province as they wanted.

Other issues of worth consideration are summarized below:

  • International media has been reporting on possible shortcomings of CPEC, warning against piling too much debt or not investing in the socially-excluded areas.
  • Meanwhile, July also saw the 55thprogress review meeting on CPEC. It has emerged that some projects got halted because workers are not being paid; this was reported in specific in case of National Highway Authority (NHA).
  • Also, to ensure level playfield for local investors in CPEC road projects, Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) has urged relevant authorities to ensure competitive procurement by all the participants of road projects under CPEC.
  • In terms of security measures, China has launched two satellites, one developed by China and one by Pakistan, to monitor the BRI regions.
  • Additionally, the issue of how to pay for security is slowing emerging up. Apart from National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) while has allowed power producers to continue charging consumers 1% capital cost of CPEC power projects as security cost, the Central Power Purchasing Agency Guarantee (CPPA-G) has decided a 71-paisa per unit increase in the tariffs of distribution companies to cover the security cost.
  • On the international front, government of Pakistan has underlined the feasibility of letting Azerbaijan join in CPEC.

Read complete “CPEC Monitor – July 2018”