China plays down reports on investment cut on CPEC
Beijing: China on Tuesday played down reports of Pakistan’s plans to cut down a railway project under the multi-billion dollar CPEC by USD 2 billion, saying Prime Minister Imran Khan has assured his support to the various projects under the flagship Belt and Road Initiative.
Pakistan’s Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid recently announced plans to cut the USD 8.2 billion Karachi-Peshawar railway project by about USD 2 billion.
It is the biggest project under the USD 50 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which India opposes as it is being laid through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
On Sunday, Khan said Pakistan is reviewing the projects under the CPEC to safeguard the interest of the people in Balochistan province.
Khan in the past criticised former prime minister Nawaz Sharif for the lack of transparency and corruption in the CPEC projects.
He said that Balochistan had a number of reservations about the mega project.
Asked about Pakistan’s plans to cut down the railway projects over fears of accumulating debt, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told media on Tuesday that the new Pakistan government has expressed its support for the CPEC projects.
“You have only noted some aspects of the report. Recently on the advancement of the CPEC, we have noted that there are different comments and reports coming from the media.
“You can see that the new Pakistani government and Prime Minister (Khan) has made it clear that they will support the advancement of the CPEC,” Lu said.
He was apparently referring to the assurances by the new government in Islamabad about the continuation of the CPEC projects during the recent visit of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi to Pakistan.
Lu said the CPEC served the economic and social development and referred to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) report which he said “made it clear that the advancement of the CPEC did not cause any burden to Pakistan”.
“The IMF also said the CPEC from a long-term perspective will enhance Pakistan’s capacity for the development,” he said, adding that all the projects were conceived after extensive consultations with Pakistan.
About the comments by some Pakistan officials to cut down the cost of the projects, he said: “We should view such comments in a comprehensive way. Actually, the advancement of the CPEC is conducive to the inter-connectivity and prosperity of the region including Pakistan”.
“We hope you can see that the CPEC is very important project of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI),” Li added.
China had announced after the visit of Wang to Pakistan in September that the CPEC projects will be extended to the western areas of Pakistan, which included Balochistan.
The CPEC is the flagship project of the multi-billion dollar BRI, a pet project of President Xi Jinping aimed at enhancing China’s influence around the world through China-funded infrastructure projects.
The Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), J&K, Shaleen Kabra this evening said that in the 2nd Phase of Municipal Polls-2018 voting will take place at 544 polling stations across the State tomorrow on 10 October 2018. The polling time, he said will be from 6.00 am to 4.00 pm.
He said 270 polling stations have been designated for voting in Kashmir Division and 274 in Jammu Division.
The CEO said 1029 candidates are in the fray for 263 Municipal Wards including 49 in Kashmir and 214 in Jammu, going to polls in Phase-II. He said 881 candidates are in the fray in Jammu division and 148 in Kashmir division for Phase-II.
“In the areas going to polls tomorrow, the total electorate is 346980, with 128104 in Jammu Division belonging to 18 Municipal bodies and 218876 in Kashmir Division of 5 Municipal bodies,”he said and added that Additional poll staff is also being deployed at the polling stations with larger number of electors.
The CEO said that Basic Minimum Facilities (BMF) have been ensured in all the polling stations across the State for voting. He said Photo Voter Slips have already been distributed among the voters to inform them of their polling station.
Kabra said senior government officers have been appointed as General Observers to oversee the smooth, fair and orderly conduct of polls. “Expenditure Observers are also keeping a watch on the expenditure by the candidates,” he said and added that for the poll day Micro Observers have been deployed in polling stations, particularly those considered sensitive/ hypersensitive.
“Besides, the Zonal and Sector Magistrates have been deployed to ensure smooth conduct of polls as well as monitoring the entire process,” CEO said and added that the Deputy Commissioners are undertaking Videography of all critical events related to the poll process.
Kabra said Control Rooms have been established in all the Municipal Bodies across the State to respond promptly to any complaints of violation of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) as also to disseminate information to the public. He said adequate security arrangements have been made for smooth conduct of polling across the State.
He said the government has also declared holiday on the day of poll in the municipal areas going to polls so as to enable the voters to cast their vote. He said as per standing guidelines, the Central Government offices shall not be closed but the employees who are electors of the poll going wards and desire to exercise their franchise shall be offered reasonable facility- by way of coming late to office / allowed to leave office early / short absence.
The CEO urged voters to exercise their right to franchise in order to choose their local self-government to address to their local needs.
Pertinently, Municipal Elections-2018 are being held in four phases, covering 79 municipal bodies with an electorate of about 17 lakh. A total of 3372 nominations have been filed for 1145 wards. Days of poll are 8th, 10th, 13th and 16th October for these four phases. (PTI)