LAHORE - Single biggest CPEC project in Pakistan is being cut down by $2 billion and further cut of $2 billion is also talked about.
Railways Minister Sheikh Rasheed revealed on Monday that $8.2 billion Pakistan Railways mega up gradation project is being sized down.
Minister cited government concerns about the country’s debt levels.
The megaproject to revamp the colonial-era line stretching 1,872 km (1,163 miles) from Karachi to the northwestern city of Peshawar was initially priced at $8.2 billion but wrangling over costs has led to delays.
The changes are part of Islamabad’s efforts to rethink key Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) projects in Pakistan, where Beijing has pledged about $60 billion in financing, but the new government of populist Prime Minister Imran Khan appears to be more cautious about the Chinese investment.
“Pakistan is a poor country that cannot afford the huge burden of the loans,” Rasheed told a news conference in the city of Lahore.
“Therefore, we have reduced the loan from China under CPEC for rail projects from $8.2 billion to $6.2 billion,” he added, referring to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
Rasheed said the government remains committed to the Karachi-Peshawar Main Line-1 (ML-1) project but added that he wishes to further reduce the cost to $4.2 billion from $6.2 billion.