From general public to politicians and scholars, everyone is calling CPEC (China Pakistan Economic Corridor) a game changer for Pakistan. They believed that with this mega project, Pakistan will not only get benefit in the form of infrastructure development but it will also help in attracting the attention of foreign investors to invest in Pakistan and thus will lead to make Pakistan an international economic zone with Gwadar as its centre. Despite all these arguments, there are some people who do not considered the project as it looks like. To them the project may not deliver as much benefits to Pakistan as we are expecting. They are also pointing towards some other areas of the project that are leading to further speculations about this scheme. To answer the question, is CPEC really a game changer?, depends upon the comparative analysis of the project.
(A) Infrastructure Development
Under CPEC project, Pakistan has signed different infrastructure development programmes with China. These schemes will not only give the country a new look but will ease the lives of citizens of the country to a greater extent as well. Some of these projects include the development of roads, railway tracks and the deployment of optical cables.
Now the problem with these projects is that all labour force, equipment and machinery used in these schemes belongs to China. This in simple terms means that our labours are still unemployed and our industry is collapsing.
(B) Energy Generation Projects
With CPEC power projects, Pakistan will finally get rid of its energy deficiency problem. The projects are based on both renewable and non-renewable energy resources. The distinguished renewable power projects include Quaid-e-Azam Solar Park and Jhimpir Wind Power Plant. The non-renewable power projects are mainly based on coal.
A common speculation about power generation projects is that end users will be charged with high tariff to recollect the invested money. Similarly at present we see that general public is charged with an extra tariff in the name of security for CPEC.
(C) Economic Zones
The construction of seven economic zones across the CPEC route is a part of this mega project. These economic zones will increase not only economic activities in the areas where they are located but will also create job opportunities. According to an estimate, CPEC will create 700,000 job opportunities by 2030.
The construction of economic zones is a promising scheme but there rumours that only Chinese industry and companies will be installed in these zones which again is serious blow to the potential development of our own industry.
(D) Local Industry
CEPEC project has led many Chinese companies to begin their operations in Pakistan. This on one hand is good as this practice will encourage the industry of other countries to construct their branches in Pakistan and at the same time the local industry of the country will get a chance to seek from them but on the other hand special privileges given to Chinese firms such low or no tariff, low tax and duty and more access opportunities to Chinese companies in CPEC, is deteriorating the local industry of the country gradually.