14 Nov 2017/ Tuesday
Few weeks ago, Pakistani Politicians, Army Chief and many columnists did not lose a single opportunity to hail CPEC as a game changer in the region. Day will not pass in Pakistan without hearing a government official or a department paying glowing odes to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and how it will propel Pak economy in a different league. Suddenly the guns seem to have fallen silent as a Chinese Company working on CPEC project has threatened to stop work.
The latest project to fall victim to the government’s operational mismanagement is the $2 billion 660 kV high-voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission line from Lahore to Matiari. According to reports the Chinese company has all but stopped working on the project by drastically reducing the pace of operations due to various problems, including differences with the government over size of a revolving fund.
Pak government’s delay in setting up a revolving fund for the project, as well as disagreements over the exact amount to be put in the revolving fund is the main reason for the project to come to a halt. That is not the end of the CPEC troubles; four coal-fired power plants in Thar, which were earlier scheduled to be commissioned in May 2020, are now expected to be operational much later. The result – according to government estimates is – is incurring billions in loss, as the power line has become operational but the power plants have not. This is a clear-cut case of incompetency of Pak Government officials in handling big projects like CPEC.
Informed sources say that reduction in US military aid in face of Pakistan’s continued support to terror, one important factor for such failure of projects. Now, Pakistan not being able to offset its expenditure on security though US aid has to deploy its integral economic resources to meet the challenges of the security of CPEC.