Structural reforms needed for benefiting from CPEC’s next phase

Structural reforms needed for benefiting from CPEC’s next phase: IPI
Mushahid says CPEC resolved energy crisis, revived Gawadar &   Thar projects, employed 7000 Pakistanis

ISLAMABAD, April 24: Islamabad Policy Institute (IPI) on Wednesday called for comprehensive structural reforms in Pakistan’s governance, industrial infrastructure,  economy, and energy sector   to maximally benefit   from the next  stage of China  Pakistan  Economic   Corridor (CPEC) related cooperation with China.

These reforms are required to stabilize the fiscal balance of payment, put in  place a  mechanism to  ensure  timely  paymen ts to  Chinese operators  of   newly   installed  power  plants,  and  also to  address bottlenecks in realizing up-gradation of ML-1 project and setting up of SEZs in Pakistan, the think tank said.

The  recommendations  were  made  in a  report  titled   ‘BRI & CPEC: Venturing into the Future’ published by IPI, an Islamabad based think tank, on the occasion of the second Belt and Road Forum (BRF) being held in  Beijing from  April 25 – 27. The publication  further  coincides with the anniversary of CPEC launch.

This special  report  gives  a  background  of  the  BRI,  its vision and elements  including  brief   introduction of   overland   and  maritime corridors. It also  brings out  areas  of  policy collaboration; gives an overview  of  the  first   BRF,   its  outcomes  and  also  provides  an introduction of the second BRF. The  report  delves into the progress made under CPEC and explores strategic, development and  regional dynamics  associated  with  CPEC   and  the  challenges  confronting Pakistani  policy-makers in  timely and  successful operationalization of  CPEC  projects  and  routes.  The  report  further  looks  into  the current  state  of  cooperation  in  all sectors  and  also  charts likely course of CPEC’s  evolution in short-to-medium  term.  It gives a set of recommendations for Pakistani and Chinese policy-makers as CPEC enters the next stage with an expanded scope.

Chairman Senate   Foreign   Affairs  Committee   Senator   Mushahid Hussain, who has penned the foreword of the report, said: “CPEC has resolved Pakistan’s  chronic energy crisis, revived  dead  projects like Gwadar  Port  and  Thar coal,  given  gainful  employment  to    7000 Pakistanis.  Furthermore,  CPEC is  uniting the Federation of Pakistan, bringing  together  the less  developed areas in the quest for a better tomorrow.”

IPI  Executive   Director   Prof  Sajjad  Bokhari  said:  “The economic cooperation under CPEC  is vital as the  project is  both an engine  of growth  and     of  strategic  importance.   To  be  successful,   multi-dimensional cooperation should go beyond  energy and infrastructure projects to address human resource requirements, as well as training and skill development in order to achieve improved connectivity”.

Report author  Mr Faisal Ahmed  noted  that   CPEC can prove to be a driver of economic  development  of Pakistan after decades of neglect. “It enables Pakistan to catch-up with leading regional economies.” He believed  that  CPEC can  only  be  successful  through prudent policy-planning  and  implementation.  Enhanced  communication   between Islamabad  and    Beijing  is crucial  for  addressing  bottlenecks  and challenges  arising  from  time  to  time, he  recommended.

Faisal Ahmed  is  a  Senior  Fellow  at Islamabad Policy  Institute. He focuses on South Asia and China.

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