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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

PM agrees to disband the CPEC Authority

After receiving approval from the Chinese government, the CPEC Authority Act would be repealed.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif gave his preliminary approval to dissolve the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Authority, subject to China’s approval, a decision that the government says will help fast-track the implementation of the multi-billion-dollar project.

The decision was taken based on a summary moved by the planning and development ministry two months ago to dissolve the body that had been contentious since its formation.

Minister of Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal while confirming the news said, “This is in the interest of CPEC that the authority should be abolished to ensure speedy implementation of its projects.”

Read more: PML-N finding fault in their own CPEC deals?

He added that in order to avoid giving Pakistan’s strategic ally the impression that Pakistan was reversing CPEC, PM Shehbaz has directed that China be consulted before moving forward.

The minister added that after receiving approval from the Chinese government, the CPEC Authority Act would be repealed.

According to sources, China did not meddle with Pakistan’s internal deliberations about the CPEC implementation mechanism. They added that its name in the past was misused to neutralise people, who were not in favour of having a military-dominated authority.

The decision to dissolve the CPEC Authority is consistent with the previous PML-N stance, which was never in favour of creating a parallel organisation.

Even the PTI government took more than two years to establish the authority. Unfortunately, it generally stayed dormant because the previous political dispensation too was not in  the favor of having the authority.

Iqbal said the CPEC Authority had become an obstruction in the fast implementation of the projects because of the breakdown of the decision-making chain.

He said now the planning and development ministry would play a facilitator role. The execution of the CPEC projects would be in the hands of the line ministries.

The minister said the government would bring back the previous institutional setup that aided in the quick completion of CPEC projects from 2014 to 2018. Additionally, he announced that the planning and development ministry would resurrect the CPEC Secretariat.

Read more: CPEC Authority Bill 2020: More powers transfer from parliamentarians to un-elected officials?

Last month, the government had decided that the CPEC Support Project would be strengthened. The Centre of Excellence for CPEC would be transferred back to the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE).

The previous PTI government had reluctantly enacted the CPEC Authority but it never filled the chairman’s post after Lt Gen (retd) Asim Saleem Bajwa’s resignation.