Friday, April 23, 2021

China Stops CPEC funding over Corruption charges, Pakistan ‘Stunned’

Taking a shocking decision regarding the CPEC, China has decided to temporarily halt its major funding for at least three major road projects in Pakistan, being built as part of the USD 50 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)

The decision came amidst reports of corruption, a decision that has left Islamabad officials “stunned”, according to a media report on Tuesday.

Projects of the Pakistan’s National Highway Authority (NHA), which are worth over Rs 1 trillion is likely to suffer tremendously owing to this decision by the Chinese officials and may also delay at least three such ventures, according to the Dawn newspaper.

CPEC, the project nearly costing USD 60 billion, a flagship project of China’s prestigious One Belt One Road, passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). According to a senior Pakistani official, the funds will be released after complying with ‘new guidelines’ from Beijing.

The 210-km-long Dera Ismail Khan-Zhob Road was to be built at an estimated cost of Rs 81 billion. Of this, Rs 66 billion was to be spent on construction while the remaining on the land acquisition.

The 110-km-long Khuzdar-Basima Road had an estimated total cost of Rs 19.76 billion. The third project is Rs 8.5 billion worth, the remaining 136-km of Karakoram Highway (KKH) from Raikot to Thakot.

Originally, all the three projects were part of the Pakistan government’s own development programme, but in December 2016, the NHA spokesperson had announced that they would be included under the CPEC umbrella so as to become eligible for concessionary finance from China.

“It was expected that the funding of the three projects would be finalised during the Joint Working Group (JWG) meeting held on November 20, but Pakistan was informed in the meeting that ‘new guidelines’ will be issued from Beijing under which new modus operandi for release of the funds will be described,” the official was quoted as saying by the newspaper.

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