PM calls CPEC ‘blessing for investment-starved Pak’

  • PM stresses Pakistan wishes to learn from China’s policies

BEIJING: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday called the flagship China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project as a “blessing for Pakistan”, claiming that the project had attracted foreign investments in the economically debilitated country.

PM Imran is currently on his first visit to China since assuming charge as the prime minister in August this year, leading a delegation of senior officials including Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Finance Minister Asad Umar.

While addressing a ceremony at the Central Party School of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China in Beijing, the prime minister said Pakistan needed investments “more than ever before” because of a current account deficit, and China has given Pakistan an opportunity to attract investments.

His statements came a day after he had invited Chinese businessmen to explore Pakistan’s investment potential.

“CPEC is a blessing for Pakistan, it’s very important for the country, it’s an opportunity to attract investments,” he added.

The premier also spoke of his confidence in the Chinese leadership, claiming that meeting the Chinese President Xi Jinping and his counterpart Li Keqiang had assured him that Pakistan will be able to face the ongoing economic crisis.

Pakistan’s foreign reserves have plunged 42 per cent since the start of the year and now stand at about $8 billion, or less than two months of import cover.

Last month, Pakistan had received a $6 billion rescue package from Saudi Arabia, but officials say it is not enough and the country still plans to seek a bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to avert a balance of payments crisis.

It would be Pakistan’s 13th rescue package from the multilateral lender since the late 1980s.

“For the last 15 years we have suffered as a result of the war against terrorism,” he told the gathering.

PM Imran added that Pakistan, that had been one of the fastest-growing economies in the 1960s, had fallen prey to corruption and money laundering by the ruling elites.

“Pakistan had been one of the fastest-growing economies in the world in the 1960s, and its five-year plan had even been emulated by South Korea and Malaysia.”

He expressed remorse that from the mid-1980s, money laundering and corruption had deprived Pakistan of its vast resoures, rendering foreign exchange inefficient to support the growing population, as “rich countries get richer, poor countries get poorer”.

PM Imran also lauded China for alleviating corruption and poverty with stringent economic policies and stressed that Pakistan wished to “learn from its counterpart’s progress”.

“No country [other than China] has lifted 700 million out of poverty in 30 years. The steps taken by China to achieve this, is what my party, my government is interested in learning,” he observed.

The premier added that Pakistan enjoyed a multidimensional relationship with China which was not limited to one or two domestic spheres but included economy, environmental policies and other socioeconomic areas.

He also thanked the Chinese people for extending friendship and love during his visit to the country, inviting the Chinese leadership to Pakistan.

“The love between Pakistan and China did not only exist on a state-to-state level but could also be witnessed on people-to-people basis,” the prime minister emphasized.

Earlier on Saturday, Pakistan and China had signed 15 agreements and memorandums of understanding (MoUs) for cooperation in different fields.

Higher Education of Pakistan (HEC) and Science Academy of China had also agreed to cooperate on matters of mutual interest while Chinese Academy of Science and Pakistan Meteorological Department also agreed for the same.

Pakistan is expected to receive $6 billion economic packages from China during PM Imran’s visit. A loan of $1.5 billion is also expected to be offered, along with an additional package of $3 billion for CPEC.