‘Govt violating APC decision on China corridor’

A meeting of the Senate standing committee was deliberating on budgetary proposals for the next financial year. —Courtesy: Planning Commission of Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: The Senate standing committee on finance and revenue has demanded an investigation into alleged violations of the consensus reached at an all-party conference recently that the western route of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor would be followed on priority.

A meeting of the committee, presided over by Ilyas Bilour of the Awami National Party in the absence of its chairman Salim H. Mandviwala, was deliberating on budgetary proposals for the next financial year on Thursday.

Mohsin Aziz of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf said the government had allocated Rs126 billion for eastern route of the CPEC without naming it as such while a negligible Rs20bn was kept for the western route.

He said the government had allocated Rs20bn for Lahore-Abdul Hakeem Road, Rs15.25bn for Multan-Sukkur Motorway, Rs5.5bn for Sukkur-Hyderabad Motorway and Rs51bn for some other sections of Karachi-Lahore Motorway – all falling in the plan of the eastern route.

On the contrary, Mr Aziz said, the finance minister announced in his budget speech an allocation of Rs39.5bn for the western route but it was not reflected in the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP). “This is a violation of the APC decision,” he said.

Farhatullah Babar of the PPP supported Mr Aziz’s submissions on allocations, saying this was a ‘political fudging’ and parliament was being misled. He said the matter should be investigated at the level it had been decided. Such decisions could not be expected to have been taken at the bureaucratic level, he added.

“This must be a political decision,” he said and demanded that a project of national importance should not be made controversial.

As senators kept on raising questions over allocations for the CPEC, secretaries of planning and finance did not come up with explanations. Therefore, the committee recommended that a special meeting be convened on the CPEC project to investigate why the APC agreement was being violated and who was behind it.

Ayesha Raza Farooq, the only ruling party senator attending the meeting, said the use of investigation in the committee record would be too harsh and suggested that the minister concerned should be invited to seek explanations.

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