5 CPEC power projects face delays

The Pak-China Relations Steering Committee on Monday directed finalisation of a uniform policy framework within a month for extension in commercial operation dates (CODs) of five power projects of about 3,600 megawatts being set up under China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

The meeting presided over by Planning Minister Asad Umar also directed the Power Division to ensure availability of sufficient power for operationalisation of 660kV transmission line from Matiari to Lahore from Sept 1. The committee also directed National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) to finalise tariff for the project during the testing stage.

A number of projects under the CPEC, including those in the power sector, are currently facing delays for various reasons including the ongoing pandemic and surplus generation capacity. The multi-billion dollar economic cooperation had not been able over the last three years to maintain the impetus that delivered a series of power plants and other infrastructure projects in the first phase of the CPEC implementation.

The meeting discussed in detail the “ongoing projects under CPEC and the issues facing their investors,” said a statement after the second meeting of the recently created steering committee, mostly represented by federal secretaries and chairman of CPEC Authority besides military and intelligence agencies.

While discussing CPEC energy projects facing delays owing to Covid-19, the committee directed the Power Division to formulate a policy to deal with COD extension issues of the power projects,” the statement said. The projects that require extension have a total generation capacity of 3,584MW and include 330mw each of Thar Coal Block-II and ThalNova Coal, 1320MW of Thar Coal Block-II, 884MW Sukki-Kinari Hydropower and 720MW Karot Hydropower project.

The meeting also discussed the 884MW Suki Kinari project and gave directions to relevant authorities to settle the project operational issues on priority. The meeting noted that extension in CODs on a case-to-case basis would not be a good option. Instead a policy based decision should be made to grant blanket extension to all the projects to avoid any discretion.

The minister also directed Ministry of Communication to expedite work on the Thakot-Raikot Road and Zhob-Quetta road projects and submit proposals in this regard to the cabinet by next week to move the projects to next level of development. The meeting was also informed about delays in signing of an industrial framework agreement.

The committee was apprised of the growing interest of local and foreign investors in the Dhabeji Special Economic Zone. It was pointed out that any delay in the finalisation of the developer would be detrimental to the project. The meeting decided that the planning minister should personally take up this issue with Chief Minister Sindh Murad Ali Shah.

On Allama Iqbal Industrial City, representative from Board of Investment informed the committee that the board member list for Faisalabad Industrial Estate Development and Management Company (FIEDMC) had been finalised and will be soon notified.

The delay in the provision of utilities to Gwadar Port and Free Zone also came under discussion. The meeting was informed of prospective investments in LNG at Gwadar and three major firm had shown interest in setting up of LNG terminals and related infrastructure. Mr Umar directed Ministry of Petroleum to help facilitate investors and coordinate with relevant ministries.

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