CPEC projects should be transparent

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Mohammed Arifeen
Mohammed Arifeen

CPEC projects should be implemented for the benefit of Pakistan. They should be established on basis of transparency, economic viability, and rule of law. It is rumored that China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project is being awarded without safe guarding a situation that is far in the public procurement market.
The share holders are disturbed with the government’s inability to modernize an outdated tender system as well as to keep corruption in check.
Although government is devoted to transparency, it does an exercise in bureaucratic control which confuses the general public. The potential for corruption is very much real.
The Senate standing committee was worried over possible corruption scandal after the panel discovered a series of inconsistencies in the award of a profitable motorway contract by the National Highway Authority NHA to a Chinese state-owned entity, China State Construction Engineering Corporation.
It may be noted that CSCEC was accused by the World Bank of indulging in corrupt practices in 2009 and was blacklisted from participating in any of the bank’s tenders for six years. After the ban was lifted in 2015, Moody’s Investors Service assigned A2 issuer rating to CSCEC.
After a pre-bid meeting with three Chinese firms in June 2015, the original bidding document was modified through an addendum.
It prohibited firms which were not nominees of the Chinese government from participating in the bidding process altogether.
From the review of procurement arrangements the Export-Import Bank of China (Exim) favoured lending to those Chinese construction firms that import raw materials including cement and purchase equipment from China.
In order to lessen the foreign loan component, the government decided to exempt the company from paying income taxes besides federal excise duty, sales tax and withholding tax.
There are CPEC projects which are not promoting corruption in Pakistan. They are full of honesty, and sincerity. They are transparent and there exists no corruption in these projects.
The government of Pakistan and China maintained the commitment to CPEC projects. Genuine national projects between Pakistan and China and both China and Pakistan governments ensure their implementation without any doubt about their transparency. These projects are above of any bribes and commissions
Pakistan and China inked as many as 51 projects in April 2015, and later continuously signed more agreements to add them in the CPEC projects.
Transparency has been maintained by both sides. China wants to ensure complete transparency under its national drive against malpractices. The CPEC projects are no exceptions.
National Accountability Bureau has signed a memorandum of Understanding with China to erase corruption.
Both Pakistan and China will oversee and ensure transparency in China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a $46 billion investment project.
The NAB is committed to expunge corruption from the country and all possible steps are being taken in this regard.
NAB has chalked out a very comprehensive Anti-Corruption Strategy by adopting Zero Tolerance Policy.
NAB’s major target is on cases of cheating public at large by fraudulent financial companies, bank frauds, and deliberate bank loan defaults, misuse of authority and misappropriation of state funds.
Several CPEC projects in execution at least two continue to be in standstill. Both Main Line-1 (ML-1) and Karachi Circular Railways (KCR) are biting, not only for economic uplift but also internal connectivity.
Government should spotlight on delays in these projects, besides computing others in less-developed areas.
The government has allocated around Rs198 billion for CPEC in budget of the fiscal year 2018-19. The budget allocated for few projects under CPEC was not in conformity with the estimated cost of those projects.
Under the “development portfolio”, sufficient funds will be provided to CPEC projects that were awarded on Engineering Procurements and Construction Contract (EPC) due to absence of funding.
The nature of finance for projects like Mainline-1 (ML-1) and Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) are not clear. Government postponed the 2nd phase of Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China mainly due to the local business community’s involvement.
Various international organizations have forewarned Pakistan about the debt burden under CPEC.
Punjab government has launched intelligence survey system to control the unauthorized movement of Chinese nationals. Sindh Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) has arrested two suspects along with their affiliate who confessed their involvement to sabotage CPEC and Chinese workers in 2016 and 2017.
In the wake of altercation between Chinese engineers and Special Protection Unit at Khanewal, government declared five Chinese “persona non grata.”
To monitor the execution of CPEC, China will launch two remote sensing satellites for Pakistan in June 2018.
On the geostrategic front, China remained indifferent towards continued Indian opposition to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) including CPEC.
A global shipping firm is keen to explore potential business opportunities of CPEC in Pakistan and a huge shell of London is interested to establish 100 new fuel stations along the CPEC route.
Chairman National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Justice (Retd) Javed Iqbal, has said that the Bureau would continue playing its pivotal role for preventing corruption in important projects including China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).The Chairman, who visited Balochistan Bureau to review its performance, said CPEC guarantees the country’s economic progress and prosperity.
He said progress in Balochistan would have far-reaching impacts on the national economy. The Chairman said corruption in pat feeder canal would be unearthed and people responsible will be identified and the looted money would be recovered.
NAB would continue to capture criminal and deposit looted money in national exchequer. This would increase foreign exchange to help complete important projects on time.
He ordered that corruption cases should be taken to a convincing conclusion and added that the looted money of Balochistan’s people has been recovered and returned to provincial government.
Repeating no tolerance policy against corruption, Justice Javed Iqbal said NAB would continue pursuing Accountability for All.
Terming corruption as the real curse afflicting the country, he said NAB would continue actions against the corrupt besides accelerating awareness about the corruption in educational institutions.
NAB has already started an awareness campaign for people, especially youth, about the effects of corruption as youth is our future and will play an important role in erasing corruption. He said that the performance of NAB Balochistan under the supervision of the Director-General is satisfactory.
He directed NAB officials to complete complaint verifications, inquiries, and investigations within the prescribed time frame so that the looted money could be promptly recovered from the corrupt and deposited in the national exchequer.
Pakistan and China are likely to reach an agreement under which Pakistani companies would be included in joint venture projects of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to ensure transparency and benefit Pakistan.
This was disclosed by higher authorities of National Highway Authority (NHA) while briefing the Senate Standing Committee on Communications.
The chairman NHA said that the number of firms would be increased in joint venture projects and Pakistani companies would also be included to ensure transparency and earn benefits for the country. He said that problems in this regard would be settled with China very soon.
It has been decided that e-tendering, e-bidding and e-billing system across the country will be introduced within 60 days to ensure transparency in implementation of road projects.
The third party audit of delayed road projects, whose cost escalated by several times incurring billions of rupees loss to the national exchequer would be handled also. At present inquiry into six projects is advancing and cases would be sent to National Accountability.