CPEC Authority Bill 2021 bulldozed through Senate

ISLAMABAD – The Senate on Thursday passed “The China Pakistan Economic Corridor Authority Bill, 2021” after the Opposition parties staged a walk-out from the House on the subject.

The Opposition wanted the Bill to be referred to the concerned Standing Committee while the government insisted on passage of the Bill. As the Opposition staged a walkout from the House, the Treasury members voted in favour of the Bill.

The Bill seeks to establish China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Authority to further accelerate the pace of CPEC-related activities.

It aims to find new drivers of economic growth, unlock the potential of interlinked production network and global value chains through regional and global connectivity.

The Authority would be responsible for planning, facilitating, coordinating, monitoring, and evaluating to ensure implementation of all activities related the CPEC.

It will ensure inter-provincial and inter-Ministerial coordination, organize and coordinate meetings of Joint Cooperation Committee and Joint Working Groups and formulation of long-term policy planning.

The National Assembly had already passed the Bill.

The government grabbed the opportunity ,otherwise, it may not have passed the Bill.

Earlier, the government faced defeat on a Bill presented by Dr. Shireen M. Mazari, Minister for Human Rights.

As the Minister moved that “The Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Bill, 2021” to establish an effective system of protection, relief and rehabilitation of women, children, elders and any vulnerable person against domestic violence, be passed, the Opposition members opposed it and asked the Chair to refer it to the concerned Standing Committee. The government wanted it passed at once.

However, the Chair sought opinion of the House on the issue and later directed for a count.

As many as 34 Senators favoured the motion to pass the Bill while 35 opposed it and subsequently the Chair referred the Bill to the concerned Standing Committee.

The Opposition also staged a token walkout on the attitude of IRSA as the Opposition Senators demanded committee of the whole of the House to discuss the issue.

At the outset of the proceedings, Minister for Communications Murad Saeed told the House that the Hakla to Dera Ismail Khan motorway project will be completed by September this year.

Taking the floor in question hour in the House, he said 89 per cent work on the project has been completed; bridges are being constructed and it will soon be open for traffic.

The Minister said only 1100 kilometres of roads were approved in the last 15 years but the government has approved 3300 kilometres only in two and half years.

Responding to a question regarding improvement of Pakistan Post, he said the revenue of Pakistan Post has witnessed an increase of 7.86 billion rupees in a year.

He said Pakistan Post has recently initiated a number of new financial services including same-day delivery, electronic money order, pick-up service for bulk mail, EMS plus delivery of parcels and packets at major overseas destinations in 72 hours and foreign remittance initiative in collaboration with National Bank of Pakistan at 500 locations.

He said the international ranking of Pakistan Post has improved from 94th to 60.

Responding to a question, Minister for Inter Provincial Coordination Dr Fehmida Mirza said that the suspension of the Pakistan Football Federation by the FIFA Bureau is unfortunate for Pakistan.

She said the President of PFF was elected in 2018 as a result of elections held under the Supreme Court but FIFA did not accept it. Answering a question about vaccination process, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan said 1.5 million people have been vaccinated so far.

He said the daily vaccination rate has reached 100,000.

He said there is no shortage of ventilators or oxygenated beds.