Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has more or less given his approval to abolish the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Authority. Such abolishment is subject to consent from China.

The disbandment of the Authority was probably for the best. The CPEC Authority was established through the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Authority Act of 2021, with the aim to further accelerate the pace of CPEC-related activities, with the ambition to find new drivers of economic growth, and unlock the potential of the interlinked production network and global value chains through regional and global connectivity. However, the Authority and its constitution were frayed with complications from the start.

PTI’s establishment of the Authority led to sharp contentions by several parliamentarians, with some MNAs even attaching affidavits of grievances to the then-bill. The Authority aimed to integrate the advice of stakeholders in decision making; however, the Authority had such a large constitution of members, without any clear overruling decision-maker, that it had become an obstruction in the fast implementation of the projects. It also caused confusion between the roles and jurisdiction of the Authority, and the respective ministries, leaving gaps to be filled, wherein it might have been more productive and efficient to instead empower the ministries, especially the Ministry of Planning & Development instead. It appears that in those two years, the Authority mostly remained defunct due to red tape, political controversy and infighting over appointments.

In the first phase, more than $29b worth of investment was channelised by the Ministry of Planning & Development successfully without any Authority in partnership with the Ministries. The same model could be continued now with the abandonment of the Authority; however, the government should ensure that any further step taken is not unnecessarily politicised or falls into the same bureaucratic trap of a top-heavy structure without any real utility.