ISLAMABAD: A special committee of the Senate is set to propose legislation to create a separate authority, working directly under parliament, to supervise the much-touted China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project.
Until that happens, the Senate Special Committee on CPEC recommends that the project be overseen by the Council of Common Interests (CCI) that is already mandated to ensure equitable distribution of resources among provinces.
Senator Farhatullah Babar, who is a member of the committee, told Dawn that the report would soon be laid before the Senate — the third report presented to the upper house on the project.
Committee wants project handed over to CCI in the interim
An earlier report, tabled on Friday by committee convenor Senator Taj Haider, observed “many indications on ground that the agreed western route of CPEC is NOT being given the priority it was accorded… by the prime minister in his public announcement of Jan 15, 2016” and suggested that allocations made for it should be equal to the specifications of the eastern route.
In its latest report, the committee will also recommend that the people of Gilgit-Baltistan should be given due representation and benefit from the CPEC.
The committee, Senator Babar said, believed that since the CPEC started from GB and culminated at Gwadar, the people of Gilgit-Baltistan should benefit from the project.
In this regard, the committee has suggested that the GB Legislative Assembly should have the powers and authority to take decisions regarding the CPEC instead of the GB council, which is headed by the prime minister.
The report seems to cast doubts on the ability of the Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform to handle the project when it calls for its management to be handed over to the CCI.
“The CPEC is, in fact, a national project and in order to guard the interests of all the provinces and their people, there is a need for an organisation that will have equal representation for all and will work directly under parliament,” Senator Babar said.
He said that although the committee had no misgivings about Minister Ahsan Iqbal’s competence, the members felt that since he and most of the other people currently working on the project hailed from Punjab, they would be more watchful of its interests rather than all the provinces.
“We believe that the CPEC is such a huge project that it should be run by an organisation where equal representation of the provinces is ensured,” he said, explaining the logic of handing over administrative control of the project to the CCI.