Islamabad, May 30: Pakistan's budget proposal for 2017-18 has a clear Chinese footprint. The budget seems to be an extension of the China-Pak Economic Corridor (CPEC) initiative, reports a Pakistan daily. Almost a fifth of the total budget is for CPEC projects.
Pakistan has allocated 180 billion rupees ($1.71 billion) for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and different projects in Gwadar during the 2017-18 financial years. This is seen as Nawaz sharif's government attempt to complete all CPEC-related energy and road projects before the 2018 elections in a bid to woo voters.
Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, who presented the Rs 4,757 billion budget on Friday, announced several CPEC projects in his speech in parliament. He told the National Assembly that the development of Gwadar city in Balochistan province was fundamental to development of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
Dar told the National Assembly that Rs231 billion were already spent on the mega-corridor project; out of which Rs160b were spent on construction of roads and bridges under CPEC.
The federal government has allocated Rs44b for western route of CPEC, while 1.8 billion rupees have been set aside for CPEC security. Dar said imports have been recorded at $37.8 billion during July-April, showing an upward trajectory compared to the same period last year.
Interestingly, China has also emerged as the single largest lender of money to Pakistan ever since the two countries decided to undertake the CPEC project a little more than two years back.
Beijing will provide loans of Rs168.3bn, including Rs1.3bn as grants for the international airport and a vocational training centre in the port city of Gwadar, to Islamabad next year. Over 55pc of the Chinese loan, or Rs93.4bn, is meant for the controversial orange line metro train project in Lahore.
Pakistan’s defence expenditure in the next financial year will be around 7 per cent higher than it was in the outgoing year at Rs 920.2 billion.