ISLAMABAD, May 27 (Xinhua) -- Pakistan has allocated 180 billion rupees (approximately 1.71 billion U.S. dollars) for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and its supporting projects during the 2017-18 financial year which will begin on July 1.
The country's Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, who presented the next year budget of 4,757 billion rupees in the parliament on Friday evening, mentioned several CPEC projects in his budget speech.
He told the National Assembly or lower house of the parliament that the development of Gwadar city in Balochistan province is "fundamental to development of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor."
"A comprehensive plan is being implemented for the road link networks, expansion and modernization of the airport, and development of the area. Thirty-one projects for development of Gwadar are provided in 2017-2018 budget for this purpose which include projects such as implementation of Gwadar master plan, New Gwadar international airport, a 200-bed hospital, 200 MW power generation, and desalination plant," he said.
"CPEC projects would enter into their third year of implementation during 2017-2018," the minister further said.
He said the backbone of Pakistan's infrastructure is the Peshawar in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to Karachi Railways or technically called the ML-1. A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed with China for its improvement and upgradation.
He said imports have been recorded at 37.8 billion U.S. dollars during July-April, showing an upward trajectory compared to the same period last year.
"This vibrancy in imports is attributable to over 40 percent increase in capital machinery, industrial raw material and petroleum products and the increased investment under the CPEC projects focused on energy and infrastructure sectors. All of this augurs well for Pakistan's economy in the near future," he went on to say.
Pakistan's defense expenditure in the next financial year will be around 7 percent higher than it was in the outgoing year to 920.2 billion rupees, the minister said.
Exports during the first ten months of this year have shown an overall minor decrease of 1.28 percent compared to 7.8 percent decline during the same period last year, the budget documents said.
The minister said Pakistan's foreign exchange reserves currently stand at a comfortable level of 16 billion U.S. dollars despite a larger than expected trade deficit, mainly due to increased import of capital goods.