Pakistan wants China to finance ML-1 project in RMB

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has proposed China to consider the financing of Main Line-I (ML-I), a rail project worth over $9 billion, in Renminbi (RMB).

According to sources, Pakistan made this proposal during the recently concluded meeting of the Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) on the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Sources said the Pakistani side had informed the meeting that it has already established the ML-1 Inter-Departmental Financing Committee. The Chinese side also agreed to constitute a high-level financing committee to negotiate in this regard.

In addition to this, the Pakistani side informed that the umbrella PC-1 of the project has been submitted to the Planning Commission and would be approved expeditiously. It was further added that the bidding documents were under process and would be finalised by Dec 15.

The JCC expressed satisfaction on the review of the preliminary design (Phase I) for ML-1 and agreed to expedite the preliminary design and review of the remaining subprojects.

Meanwhile, the JCC also reviewed the progress made on the Lahore Orange Line Metro Train project. The Chinese side was apprised that the issues pertaining to power and water supply and drainage have been resolved to a greater extent. “The bidding process for the issuance of operations and maintenance (O&M) contract will be completed by Nov 30.”

Moreover, the committee expressed satisfaction over the progress of East Bay Expressway. The Chinese side was informed that the exemption of sales tax was in process and it would be resolved within two months by Gwadar Port Authority (GPA) and the Balochistan government.

“The GPA shall resolve the land issues within one month.”

The Pakistani side informed that the inclusion of three bridges on the East Bay Expressway was approved by the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) on Oct 2.

The JCC also lauded progress made on the New Gwadar International Airport.

Regarding the three mass transit projects in Karachi, Quetta and Peshawar, both sides agreed to move forward based on the readiness of each project.

For the Karachi Circular Railway project, the Pakistani side would soon submit a financing request to the Chinese side. Regarding Quetta Mass Transit and Greater Peshawar Mass Transit, both sides agreed to consider the projects in next the Joint Working Group meeting after approval of the PC-I.

Both sides agreed that DI Khan–Zhob highway project would be placed in the priority list. The Pakistani side requested the Chinese side to consider signing a framework agreement for the commencement of this project in 2020. The Chinese side agreed to hold internal consultations before moving ahead on the issue.

The Pakistani side also proposed to constitute a joint technical working group at a government-to-government level to prepare a proposal for the realignment of Thakot–Raikot section of Karakorum Highway. The Chinese side agreed to consider it in the next JWG meeting.

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