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Govt to expand scope of CPEC, improve project priorities: minister

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Planning and Development Khusro Bakhtiar on Tuesday said that the government will expand the scope of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, but will reduce any unnecessary projects brought in by the previous government.

Addressing a press conference alongside Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry, the federal minister said that he wants to inform the nation about the current state of the economy. He said that the number of direct tax payers is abysmal and there is a need to balance with indirect taxes on ordinary citizens.

He said that previous government only gave preference to their favourite development projects, and the loans from external sources had an adverse on GDP and the nation’s economy.

The previous PML-N government paid Rs582 billion of circular debt, but left behind Rs1200 bn worth, which is the worst example of governance ever by any party. Pakistan has debts worth Rs28,000 bn while foreign debts is a staggering 27pct of the budget.

He said that objections are being raised that the developmental budget is being curtailed, but infact the government is reducing expenses on unnecessary projects of the previous government as they require over Rs2000 bn to complete the development projects of the PML-N government.

Mr Bakhtiar said that relations between China and Pakistan are based on decades of friendship, and the government will build them further and expand the scope of CPEC.

He said that 52pct of the electricity was produced from hydro-power projects in 1980 which now reduced to just 26pct and they have started to give more importance to hydel projects. “By giving preference to motorways, the importance of CPEC projects was diminished,” he said.

He maintained that it was necessary to built Karachi and Peshawar railway tracks to give more importance to CPEC projects, but the previous government set wrong priorities when choosing developmental projects.

He said that Pakistan and China will work together on poverty alleviation and energy projects and create more opportunities for the people as Pakistan’s biggest strength is its manpower.

The planning minister said that CPEC will be made successful in the next five years, and a new working group has been set up in this regard. “This situation of Gwadar is such there is not even a water scheme there. PML-N government did not think about the future of the people,” he decried.

Therefore, he reaffirmed that the government has decides to expand the scope of CPEC and the priorities of projects to make it more successful.

Govt not increasing electricity prices

Information minister Fawad Chaudhry said that the government is not raising the price of electricity and the decision by made in the meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) chaired by Finance Minister Asad Umar.

The ECC had taken up a four-point agenda wherein the summary of electricity tariff titled ‘Tariff rationalisation for power sector’ wass on top of the list.

The meeting was further expected to discuss K-Electric shares purchase by Shanghai Electric Power Company Ltd, revision in cess rates of tobacco for the year 2018-19 and a report on Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminals.

During the last meeting, the ECC decided to defer the announcement of increase in electricity tariff until its next meeting.

Moreover, the committee directed the power companies to ensure 100 per cent collection of electricity bills to minimise the losses while instructing National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) and Power Division to prepare a comprehensive plan for the next five years.

The ECC was expected to increase price of electricity by Rs2 per unit, while Nepra had suggested a price hike of over three rupees.

Earlier this month, the PTI government had approved up to 143 per cent increase in natural gas tariff with immediate effect having a cumulative financial impact of about Rs 116 billion. The decision was taken in an Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) session.

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