Sindh province has the biggest $11.3 billion share in the energy portfolio of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), according to Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms Ahsan Iqbal.
Addressing a gong ceremony here on Wednesday at Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX), the minister put the total energy portfolio under the multibillion-dollar CPEC venture at $35 billion.
The first phase of $46 billion China-backed “game changer”, which Iqbal said would change the region’s geo-economics, is based on infrastructure development and would complete by 2018.
“Sindh has the biggest share of $11.3 billion in CPEC energy portfolio,” the minister told a questioner after explaining “four Es”. Extremism, energy, economy and education, he said, were the hallmark of his government’s election manifesto in 2013.
The first phase, the PML-N leader said, envisaged the development in the port city of Gwadar Port, an airport, a hospital, a desalination plant and a technical vocational institute to make Baloch youth skilful.
Chinese are providing free services, as Islamabad is working on a new Master Plan to make Gwadar an “international smart port city”.
Also, China and Pakistan would be connected through a strong network of road and rail link. “During last three years, we have invested about Rs 115 billion in railways.
This now is bearing fruit,” the development minister said. Noting that certain anti-Pakistan “powers” were trying to sabotage CPEC, Iqbal said work on the mega project had been started in a record one-year time with a complete consensus on its route of all stakeholders including Sindh province.
“Murad Ali Shah (chief minister-designate) is a dynamic leader who has been working with us as a finance minister. I look forward to work with him.
We are very happy that he is the Chief Minister Sindh,” he told a reporter. Further, he said CPEC, being a long-term national project to be completed in 2030, would be undertaken by three governments succeeding his in 2018, 2023 and 2028.
Dwelling on the four Es, the minister said while Zarb-e-Azb had successfully made Pakistan safer than it was in 2013 through taking on extremism and terrorism, the energy sector had got the largest $35 billion portfolio under CPEC.
“So far, we have invested to generate 25,000 megawatts of electricity by 2025,” the minister said adding 10,000MW would be added to the national grid by 2018 and 15000MW by 2025.
Reiterating 2017-18 as a deadline for the end of loadshedding, Iqbal said various power projects were underway to generate 1320MW at Port Qasim, 2000MW initially from Thar coal by 2017, 1320MW at Sahiwal, 1320MW at HUBCO, ADB-backed 1320MW at Jamshoro, 3600MW through LNG, 2200MW through civil nuclear energy at KANUPP, 4500MW from the World Bank-funded $11 billion Dasu Dam, 4500MW from Diamir Bhasha Dam, 500MW from renewable wind and 1000MW solar energy.
Having made the “biggest” investment in energy sector, Iqbal said his government now was to up-grade the country’s ageing power transmission and distribution line.
To this effect, he said, a south-north power transmission line was being laid at $2 billion. National economy, the minister said, was progressing from stabilisation to growth phase with FY16 bringing 4.7 percent economic growth, highest in last eight years.
With Moody’s and Standards and Poor having Pakistan’s credit rating up-graded, all macroeconomic indicators in the country stood improved.
Education: Terming development of human resource as his original agenda, the minister said compared to Rs 100 billion the previous rulers had spent during 2010-2013, his government had invested double, Rs 215 billion, on the promotion of higher education in Pakistan.
Citing the previously-neglected Gwadar, Zhob and Fata as his initial target, he said his government had planned to establish universities and colleges in every district of the country within next three years.
Also, he also said to have set up a National Curriculum Council to base the country’s existing “Rutta” curriculum on critical thinking. “21st is the century of economic and not political theory,” he said.
Alluding to PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s inclination to street politics, the minister said Pakistan needed “economic long march” and not political agitation to find its place among the world’s top 25 economies under government’s Vision 2025.
Referring to booming Pakistan Stock Exchange as one of the signs, Iqbal said: “Pakistan is rising”. Earlier in the presence of PSX board members, Chairman Munir Kamal welcomed the federal minister to the Exchange. -Business Recorder