Government merging existing infrastructure to establish CPEC secretariat

The federal government has announced that all existing infrastructure of CPEC organizational teams will be merged to form the CPEC secretariat, a body that will be responsible for monitoring, implementing and coordinating activities undertake by the CPEC.

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News Desk |

The government has launched a major project, marking the first major step towards establishing the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) authority, by approving the merger of existing infrastructure with a new secretariat.

On Friday, a senior official of the Ministry of Planning and Development announced that the project director of the newly established CPEC Secretariat is likely to an official with a military background, reported the Express Tribune.

Spearheaded by Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar, the Minister for Planning and Development, the Central Development Working Party (CDWP) has approved the merger of setting up the new CPEC Secretariat and an authority. The Federal government has decided to merge the CPEC Support Project with the SPEC Centre of Excellence.

Pakistan and China announced their economic alliance and strategic cooperation in the form of CPEC, which is the pilot project of China’s ambitious and magnanimous Belt and Road Initiative.

CPEC Secretariat: Merger of Existing Infrastructure

For the past three years, a deputy project director was responsible for leading the CPEC Support Project, but now, the mechanism has been reversed and the Minister for Planning and Development will lead the CPEC Secretariat. The Planning Secretary will be second in command.

The project director will be chosen in the Management Pay Scale-I, which is equivalent to grade-22, and will be responsible for all policy-related and operational affairs of CPEC. As per a concept paper outlining the new CPEC Secretariat and authority, the project director will be responsible for leading two wings: the research wing, and the coordination and monitoring wing, and will enjoy great authority.

However, in order to keep the developments temporarily under the wraps, the Ministry of Planning and Development did not publish a new working paper for the approval of the revised PC-I by the CDWP. The official statement of the Ministry also did not mention the creation of the CPEC Secretariat.

Read more: Balochistan and its fate in CPEC

Minister of Planning and Development Bakhtiar and Planning Secretary Zafar Hassan did not comment on the importance of CPEC Authority. The presentation given by the acting project director to the CDWP underlines that the CPEC Secretariat will assume all responsibilities of coordination and implementation of CPEC projects.

The Secretariat will coordinate all activities for organizing meetings of the Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) and Joint Working Groups (JWGs) along with implementing the resolutions undertaken by these platforms.

The Joint Working Groups are represented by officials from both Pakistan and China, and they are responsible for identifying all the technical details of CPEC projects, which will then be approved by the Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC), which is the highest joint- decision-making authority of CPEC.

The federal government also intends to hire six specialists to be responsible for the implementation and monitoring of CPEC projects in 6 sectors.

The Scope of CPEC

The CPEC Secretariat will assume the responsibility of coordinating activities with all local and international organizations and think tanks for compiling research and orchestrating policies. The secretariat will be responsible for undertaking multi-sector coordination and consultative process for trade support and policy formulation.

Pakistan and China announced their economic alliance and strategic cooperation in the form of CPEC, which is the pilot project of China’s ambitious and magnanimous Belt and Road Initiative. Initially, the two countries agreed on $46 billion worth of infrastructural and energy projects, however, gradually, the volume increased to $60 billion.

Since 2014, CPEC has surpassed many challenges, and as per the statements issued by the Ministry of Planning and Development, new estimates reveal that the Chinese investment in Pakistan’s energy and infrastructural development will not exceed $24 billion.

Read more: Pakistan leverages CPEC to launch 2 auxiliary corridors: SPEC & RPEC

The introductory presentation of the newly announced CPEC Secretariat revealed that the scope of CPEC has been boosted for greater trade and market access. The scope of CPEC has now been extended towards global value chains and industrial development. The presentation also focused on the Gwadar Oil City, and regional connectivity.

Reports reveal that while new staff will be hired, the government will also retain the existing staff of the CPEC Support Project and the Centre of Excellent. There will be one deputy project director, and this post might be reassigned as the director general, taking into account the professional background of the appointee.

The federal government also intends to hire six specialists to be responsible for the implementation and monitoring of CPEC projects in 6 sectors: energy, investment, and industrial business, finance and media, transport infrastructure and Gwadar, and socio-economic agriculture.

Read more: Energy projects under CPEC: Financial lifeline for Pakistan

The Ministry of Planning and Development has estimated that the total expenditure of operating the CPEC Secretariat for five years would be Rs2.6 billion.

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