CPEC (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor) aims to improve the lives of the people of Pakistan and China by building an economic corridor that seeks to promote bilateral connectivity, construction, explore potential bilateral investment, economic and trade, logistics and people to people contact for regional connectivity.
It includes several projects, such as but not limited to, integrated transport & IT systems including road, rail, port, air and data communication channels, as well as energy cooperation, agricultural development, tourism, human resource development and financial cooperation.
According to reports, the government is drafting a law that proposes the abolishment of CEO position for CPEC Authority, reduction in the powers of CPEC Authority chairman in decision making, and an end to the authority’s powers to constitute a business council.
New law to kickstart projects
The Pakistani government has taken up the initiative to pass a new law which seeks to speed up the above mentioned CPEC projects and beyond. This incentive was made clear yesterday, as per the sources. The proposed law was shared with the Prime Minister’s Office for consideration, after which the PM directed the submission of the draft legislation for consideration of the cabinet.
Prior to this development, the Cabinet Committee on the Disposal of the Legislative Cases (CCLC) had approved a draft bill concerning CPEC. According to sources, it is anticipated that the federal cabinet should ratify the new law prior to its presentation at the National Assembly of Pakistan.
“Following the expiry of the CPEC Authority Ordinance 2019, the government has prepared a fresh draft of CPEC Authority Bill 2020 to amicably deal with issues pertaining to CPEC Authority and to speed up the pace of CPEC projects which are important for the economic development of the country,” an insider informed Profit Pakistan.
Establishment of CPEC Authority
Prime Minister Imran Khan arrived in Beijing this time last year to embark on a two-day official visit to China. Meanwhile, President Arif Alvi promulgated an ordinance to provide for the establishment of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Authority.
The ordinance promulgated by the president on October 5 in the exercise of his powers under clause (1) of Article 89 of the Constitution was called the China Pakistan Economic Corridor Authority Ordinance 2019. This authority was to be in charge of the coordination, evaluation and monitoring of all CPEC associated activities across Pakistan. The establishment of the CPEC Authority was aimed at accelerating the pace of CPEC related activities, finding new drivers of growth, unlocking the potential of interlinked production networks and global value chains through regional and global connectivity.
The ordinance expired on 31st May 2020 after the grant of a one-time extension of 120 days through a resolution. As a result of the ordinance’s expiry, the CPEC Authority stood dissolved.
What the new law beholds
It is claimed that after the new law comes into being, the position of the chief executive officer of the CPEC Authority shall cease to exist. In addition, the decision-making powers of CPEC Authority’s chairman will also be minimised and finally, the authority will no longer be entitled to constitute its Business Council.
“The authority may call for any pertinent information, required by it from any person, institution or body that is or has been involved directly or indirectly in any CPEC-related activity, while any person or its authorized officer will be bound to provide this information within the period prescribed by the authority or such officer.” the law provides.
“The authority, in the performance of its functions, can seek assistance or facilitation of office, authority or agency working under the government or a representative designated by the provinces and territories. In this regard, provinces and territories may appoint a representative to provide input and assist the authority in performance of the functions under the new law”.
It is decided that all decisions taken by the authority must be agreed upon through majority consensus of two-thirds of the total members. In addition, a CPEC Business Council will come into being which shall be notified by the Board of Investment and this shall advise the former in accordance with the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between the National Development and Reforms Commission of China and Pakistan’s Ministry of Planning Development and Special Initiatives. The BOI will act as secretariat of the business council and will meet periodically, claims the new law.
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The new law also provides a single line budget, of which the chairperson will be the principal accounting officer. The budget prepared by the authority will be reviewed by the three members of the budget committee, among which two will be nominated by the CPEC Authority and one by the administrative authority. Furthermore, CPEC may establish its own fund (CPEC Fund) to enhance its objectives as long as these comply with the terms and conditions of the finance division.
Finally, in compliance with its sub-section (1), CPEC’s accounts will be audited on an annual basis.