US concerns on CPEC incorrect: Asad Umar

Planning minister says Pakistan won’t back out from friendship with China

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our correspondent
KARACHI
Newly appointed Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar on Saturday said that circular debt was the major challenge for the incumbent government. Addressing a press conference here, Asad Umar said that the country’s external debts were hindering economic growth. He said that the economy will strengthen by paying loans.
Asad Umar said that China Pakistan Economic Corridor project was not a burden on the economy and noted that CPEC related debt out of 18 billion dollars is 4.9 billion dollars. He said CPEC loan is 7 percent of the total external debt. The minister said the loans were taken in the past as imports exceeded exports of the country and trade deficit was increasing.
He said, total public debt of the country stands at 74 billion dollars. Of this, the debt from China is 18 billion dollars, less than one fourth. Umar said Chinese institutions funded Pakistan at a difficult economic time due to deep friendship bonds between the two countries. He expressed satisfaction that commercial bilateral debt with China will start reducing at a faster pace in the coming years and will be replaced by multilateral debt. The minister said that public debt taken from China has a maturity of 20 years with an average interest rate of 2.34 percent.
Pakistan will not back out of its friendship with China and Pakistan will not be caught up in a fight between two other entities. A lot of conspiracies have taken place against CPEC, he said, referring to the energy corridor that links Pakistan’s Gwadar port to the Xinjiang province in China. Umar said that Pakistan was ‘going from roads to industries’ in the CPEC project.
Federal Minister for planning Asad Umar on Saturday said China-Pakistan relations are not against anyone. He said concerns of U.S. Acting Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia Alice Wells on CPEC are not right. He said first phase of CPEC has been completed and to expedite progress of CPEC remains the top priority of the government. He said China-Pakistan relations could not be derailed over concerns of others.
Asad said Pakistan got $4.9 billion loans under CPEC, adding that Pakistan would get benefit from Chinese technology. He said China always helped Pakistan through thick and thin.
The PTI minister said foreign loans are hampering the economic progress and circular debt is the beigest challenge for the government.
He said $74 billion foreign loans would be paid by Pakistani taxpayers, adding that trade deficit would be reduced in 2 to 3 years. He said Pakistan wants to welcome investment from US and Europe. Umar said US president Donald Trump has appreciated Pakistan’s role in Afghan peace process and Pakistan wants an Indian government that promotes regional peace

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