Pakistan becomes first ever country recipient of Chinese Aid Agency SIDCA

Pakistan becomes first ever country recipient of Chinese Aid Agency SIDCA

ISLAMABAD – Senate Special Committee on China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was informed on Thursday that Pakistan was the first recipient country of newly formed Chinese aid agency State International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDCA) under which China would provide grant of US $1 billion for various projects of socioeconomic uplift of Pakistan.

Briefing the committee, Secretary Planning Zafar Hassan said China would provide grant of $1 billion in two stages and under the first stage, the country would invest $200 to $300 million in 16 small social projects, which would be completed within a year while the rest amount would be issued in three years time.

The meeting of the committee was presided over by its Chairperson Senator Sherry Rehman which was also attended by Minister for Planning, Development and Reform Makhdum Khusro Bakhtyar.

The meeting was informed that under the fast track phase, China would help Pakistan in establishing China Pakistan Joint Agricultural Technical Laboratory (cotton, palm oil etc), smart class rooms project for higher education (50-100), overseas student scholarships programme (20,000), provision of healthcare equipment, Gwadar hospital project, Balochistan solar powered lighting equipment (10,000 house holds), Gwadar desalination plant, Pakistan vocational schools equipment upgrading and renovation project (50 centers), and others.

The secretary said the provinces had been asked to provide details of their respective projects so that those projects could be finalized with the Chinese side. He said that a Chinese delegation was visiting Pakistan next month in this regard.

Sherry Rehman however was not convinced with the Chinese model and asked the ministry to renegotiate with the Chinese side and review the priority sectors. "Except few, most of the projects in fast track phase of Chinese SIDCA model are not convincing," she said adding instead of wasting money on such projects, the government should add some new projects of more importance.

Secretary Planning assured the committee that they would convince the Chinese side in this regard to review the priority list. Senator Usman Khan Kakar said Balochistan was the least developed area and yet it was not being given due attention. He said Balochistan needs water, so priority should be on allocating more funds for building small dams. He said not a single energy project was installed in the province under CPEC despite being the most suitable area for installing wind and solar energy.

Minister Khusro Bakhtyar said the government was focusing on development of less developed areas specially Balochistan which is evident from the allocation of funds under Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) 2019-20. He said the government had already started land acquisition for the 300 kilometer Quetta-Zob highway which is also part of Western Rout of CPEC.

The minister said that Rs9 billion had been earmarked for the road in PSDP 2019-20. He said in Gwadar, the government had also allocated a hefty amount for building transmission lines from Gwadar to connect the 300MW power plant to be built in the city with the national grid.