Khawaja Asif Puts Up Stout Defence of Chinese Investment

Federal Minister for Water and Power Khawaja Asif on Tuesday said that China intends to invest 34 billion dollars in Pakistan as Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and not as a loan. “Chinese companies aim to invest $34 billion in different projects, while Chinese banks EXIM and China Development Bank would finance these companies,” Asif said while addressing a press conference called to respond to the allegations levelled by PTI Chief Imran Khan.

Chinese investment
Asif puts up stout defence of Chinese investment

Khan during his daily addresses from the rooftop of his container in the Red Zone has repeatedly stated that Chinese President was set to sanction 34 billion dollars loan during his postponed visit to Pakistan and it would be ultimately paid by the nation. Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Pakistan was postponed, as the Chinese intelligence delegation, during its recent visit to Pakistan, had not given clearance for the visit mainly due to the instable political situation in the country. This amount will not reflect on the balance sheet of the country and will not be our liability; it would be borrowing of companies for example in IPP mode, it would be a liability of companies installing power houses, Asif explained. “

The PPA would sign the agreement and the guarantee, which serves as a sovereign guarantee from the state”, he said while fumbling with his papers. Kh Asif, who also holds the portfolio of defence, said likewise Khan’s allegation that China is providing loan to the government of Pakistan on 7 percent mark-up was wrong and said that Khan is unable to understand this technical point; he should consult with his aides, Asad Umar and Jehangir Tarin, who have practical experience of carrying out energy projects.  

Despite his entire pleasant mood there was a reflection of anger on his face whenever he uttered Imran Khan’s name. “We are here in front of media for accountability, the government has not bypassed any bidding rules; all the tenders were advertised; you would have seen our advertisements for Gaddani power plants in print media”, Asif said. Emphasising that everything was transparent in all deals with China, he was short of words while answering a question regarding the role of former senator Saifur Rehman in the Pak-China deals.

Saif is a “Sodagar” (businessman); he could be anywhere, he has not played any role of middleman and facilitator in the Pak-China projects,” he explained. The PML-N former senator attended the Pak-China government-to-government meetings a couple of months ago, at Islamabad, aimed to finalising the government-to-government projects. Answering Khan’s allegations, Asif said that no rules were violated during the determination of tariff for coal based power projects. “Yes, Khawaja Naeem is my brother-in-law; he was Chairman Nepra, but the Authority is a complete independent organisation, the minister said. When media reminded him that Nepra is not having chairman since long and his government has been criticised for not appointing head of the regulatory body, he was quick to correct himself saying, Yes, I mean, acting Chairman, I agree, a permanent chairman should be appointed and heads must be appointed in all the organisations functioning under acting chief executives.”

Explaining another allegation by Imran Khan, he said Thar coal was not feasible for transportation and projects on mine mouth would start and power generated from Thar coal would be integrated in national transmission lines through new lines in Jamshoro and Mitiari. “For the projects coal could be bought from international market, it could be Australia or South Africa, but the buying stage will come between 4-7 years,” he said adding “Imran Khan has started cryiny before death.” Briefing about the Chinese projects, he said China was intended to invest in power, motorway and railway sectors.

“In power sector, we have a deficit of 5,000 megawatts in peak summer. If we make the closed industry operational, the total peak-time deficit would be around 10,000 megawatt, the new projects would not only bridge the gap between electricity demand and supply but would also cater per year growth,” Asif explained. He said that in order to inject 10,000 megawatts in the national grid, the government would ask private companies to invest in new infrastructure, like transmission lines and other related equipment.

Asif did not respond to a question that if private companies would invest in infrastructure that amount would be reflected in monthly bills of consumers, which are already very high. Answering another allegation by the PTI chief, Asif denied that Mian Mansha was doing any project in power sector. “According to the best of my knowledge Mian Mnasha is not involved in any power related project. He may have some projects in Sahiwal, Punjab, but I assure you, even Mansha would have to pass through bidding process,” he said. The media persons on the occasion broke into laughter when Khawja Asif said that Imran Khan has deposited his electricity bill of his Bani Gala house. However, a media man negated this claim. When this question was repeated Asif was all witty saying, “What you have to do with the bill.” Asif claimed Khan’s call for civil disobedience was a total failure and after the call his department recovered Rs 15 billion revenues. -nation