Agreements in China


The government should make public the fine print

Power crisis is one of the biggest challenges faced by the PML-N government. It has tried over the last seventeen months but failed to persuade international donors or IFCs to finance projects like Diamir-Bhasha Dam and Thar Coal Project that could go a long way to put an end to shortages and bring down the electricity charges. Similarly investors have continued to shun committing finances to power projects in Pakistan. The agreements signed with China therefore offer a way out of the crisis. The agreements are yet another example of the growing economic ties between Pakistan and China. China has been Pakistan’s largest trade partner for four consecutive years with $15 billion in 2013, surpassing the US and the United Arab Emirates. It also became Pakistan’s second-largest export destination in 2011, followed by the US.

PML-N circles are upbeat about China’s pledge of $42 billion investment. It has been described as a game changer. Nawaz Sharif has expressed hope of the power crisis being resolved soon and has claimed that “If we get electricity, then it means we have got everything”. Many would watch for the details of the agreement to find if these include any fine print. While the PM’s spokesman claims the entire amount is pure investment rather than loan, the issue is far from resolved. Reports about the agreement mention “concessional loans”. If there are loans in spite of denials by government leaders, there is a need to find out their details. In case of investments also information is required about their terms to determine if the profit extracted is really equitable.

President Xi Jinping has clamped down on corrupt officials. The APEC adopted a resolution on Saturday proposed by China to set up a network to share information on corruption which was aimed at denying safe haven to anyone engaged in the practice. Despite these efforts corruption still remains a serious issue in China as those doing business with the country often complain. National interest therefore demands total transparency about the agreements.

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