Planning minister Asad Umar responds to US concerns Federal Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar says Pakistan is an important beneficiary of the China- Pakistan Economic Corridor project in term of projects pertaining to the energy and infrastructure sectors.He denounced the statement of US Acting Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Alice Wells that China alone is the beneficiary of CPEC. The minister said that CPEC is important to Pakistan’s long term economic development so the present government had taken ownership of this bilateral project.He made these statements while addressing a press conference in Karachi on Saturday.The minister said that former president Asif Zardari had an interest in improving the relationship with China. He added the former president had made a visit to China when he was in office to discuss the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor with Chinese leaders.However, he said that the memorandum of understanding between China and Pakistan was signed a month after the PML-N came into power in 2013.Speaking about economic growth, he said it will improve with the payment of loans.He said the assertion of Alice Wells regarding CPEC related loans is not based on facts.The minister said it is true that the foreign debt of the country has reached to a level that is impeding the growth of economy. He said the loans were taken in the past as imports exceeded exports and the trade deficit was increasing.Umar quoted the total public debt of the country at $74 billion. Of this, the debt from China is $18 billion, which is less than one fourth. He said CPEC-related debt out of the $18 billion is $4.9 billion. So it is 7% of the total external debt.He explained that three-fourth of the debt is from other countries or multilateral institutions. "Chinese institutions funded Pakistan at a difficult economic time due to deep friendship bonds between the two countries," he said.Talking about Karachi, he said the first priority of the federal government is to complete the Green Line bus project.“Our first priority is to complete the green line project,” Umar said, adding that he has also called meetings in the next week to discuss the city’s water crisis.Our second priority is Karachi’s water projects, including the KIV, he said, adding that the Karachi Circular Railway project will also be looked into.