Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday said the Main Line-One (ML-1) project would not only modernise and strengthen Pakistan Railways but also create thousands of jobs for skilled workers and boost industrialisation in the country.
Chairing a meeting on the ML-1 project in Islamabad on Monday, PM Imran said ML-1 is a key project of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)
“ML-1 project will provide better travel and freight facilities to the people of the country and will open up a new chapter of socio-economic development,” the premier said.
PM Imran further said ML-1 would significantly reduce the cost of doing business, which would facilitate the business community.
“Welfare of the people and development of the country is the government’s top priority while setting up priorities for development projects,” the premier said.
On August 6, the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council, approved the strategically important Mainline-1 railway project of CPEC worth $6.8 billion, paving the way for loan negotiations with Beijing, which would finance 90pc of the cost.
The government had found a middle ground to commence work on the project so that the concerns of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) about debt sustainability could be addressed.
In the first phase, Pakistan will undertake only $2.4 billion worth of construction work due to “Pakistan’s commitments to the IMF programme”, according to official documents.
The country has designed the “package-1” of ML-1 keeping in mind the IMF ceiling that restricts its spending on the project during its programme period at $2.5 billion.
The ceiling will not affect the pace of construction as work on “package-2” of the project – costing worth $2.7 billion — will start a year after work on “package one” has kicked off.
Work on “package-3” costing $1.7 billion will start two years after the first package, according to the summary of Ecnec.
The ML-1 was also approved at a rationalised cost of $6.806 billion on cost-sharing basis between the governments of China and Pakistan, according to a finance ministry handout.
Finance Adviser Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, who is the Ecnec chairman, formed a committee to review the proposal of shifting $856 million Lalamusa-Rawalpindi section from package-3 to package-1 on the request of Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid.