ISLAMABAD: The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet has approved a relief package of Rs2.532 billion for the Holy month of Ramazan to provide subsidy on various food items and edible commodities.
The ECC met here Tuesday with Finance Minister Dr Hafeez A Shaikh in the chair.The relief package will be effective from July 15, 2012 as Ramazan is to commence from July 20. This subsidy on food items will be extended to the common people through 5,700 outlets of the Utility Store Corporation in the country. The package will ensure the provision of relief to low income people living in remote and far flung areas of the country.
The subsidy will be Rs6 on one kg flour, Rs15 on ghee/oil and Rs10 on each commodity of Dal Channa, Bason, Dates, Rice Baspati, Rice Sela and Rice Broken.The ECC also approved Natural Gas Load Management plan proposed by Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Resources, but subject to the approval from the prime minister.
The Ministry of Petroleum proposed that supply of natural gas to power sector should be prioritizsed over supply to the fertiliser sector after the domestic sector in the wake of current loadshedding in the country.
When contacted Dr Asim Hussain, Advisor to PM on Petroleum and Natural Resources, said that the ministry did not send the summary to ECC seeking the POL price review on a weekly basis, as it will send it to the ECC at the next meeting.
On a summary moved by Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources regarding policy guideline on “LPG air mix, CNG or LNG based pipeline distribution projects undertaken by the Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited and Sui Southern Gas Company Limited”, the ECC approved import of LPG equivalent to 250 tons with a cost computed on the basis of Weighted Average Cost of Gas. However, key decision of procurement methodology and tendering will be brought to ECC through a detailed presentation in the next meeting.
The ECC also requested the law ministry to look further into the matter regarding price determination of LPG on a monthly or six monthly basis.The summary regarding deregulation of High Octane Blending Component (HOBC) by removal of inland freight equalization margin (IFEM) proposed by Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources deferred by ECC for the next meeting.
On a summary regarding donation of wheat to the food-poor and malnourished people of Pakistan through the World Food Programme on cost-sharing basis proposed by Ministry of National Food Security and Research, the ECC decided that Ministry of National Food Security and Research would come up in next meeting after having due consultation with World Food Programme on the said matter.
There had been a lengthy discussion on the proposal of “Changes in Composition of Business Express” moved by Ministry of Railways, in which Ministry contented that JV Partners have from the very outset failed to meet most of major contractual obligations like guaranteed revenue of Rs3.19 million which was to be paid in advance, a commitment that has never been fulfilled.
In the same way, guaranteed revenue was to be paid in full whereas the JV Partners have been making part payments and so on. After detailed discussion, the chairman ECC constituted a committee comprising minister for information, chairman Board of Investment, sectary Railways and deputy chairman Planning Commission, which will look further into the matter.
The ECC also approved the summary for the increase in the amount of GOP sovereign guarantee from Rs5.300 billion to Rs19.150 billion in favour of local banks syndicate as a time gap arrangement till extension/effectiveness of foreign loans and additional wavier of demurrage & detention charges Rs856.591million - 425MW Nandipur Power Project.
“With this approval the local banks will allow the constructor to pick up the machinery lying since long in the Karachi port,” a senior official at Ministry of water and Power told The News. This will ensure the completion of the Nandipur project in one year and it will also help bailout the country in coping with the energy crisis that has skyrocketed in the province of Punjab.
The ECC also discussed summary regarding protection to Motor Cycle Industry in Pakistan moved by Ministry of Commerce in which ministry proposed recommendations that new eight digit tariff lines be created in Pakistan Custom Tariff for all the parts of 125CC motorcycles with 5% tariff in case of new entrants.
In the same way the ministry proposed that while reducing the duty on Completely Build Unit (CBU) and Completely Knock Down (CKD) (in case of non-assemblers) from 65% to 35%, the duties on parts and components may also be reduced as recommended by National Tariff Commission to protect the minimum cascading needed by the local industry.
After due deliberation ECC constituted a committee comprising minister for water & power, minister for petroleum & natural resources, minister for information, chairman BOI, secretary water & power, DCPC and representatives from ministry of industries and FBR to look further into the matter.
The ECC also approved a summary to reconstitute Pakistan Central Cotton Committee and increase in the rate of cotton cess with the provision that a functional re-structuring plan of Central Cotton Committee should be presented thoroughly in the next ECC meeting.
The other summaries which were approved by ECC are “Revised Draft Low BTU Gas Pricing Policy, 2012”, “ Policy Package for Establishment of Economic Zones Including China-Pakistan Economic Zone (CPEZ)” and “Approval for Opening of Branch at Colombo, Sri Lanka a Request by National Bank of Pakistan”.
For the first time, minister for information & broadcasting attended the ECC meeting and gave his valuable suggestions. Among others who attended the meeting were minister for water & power, minister for Law, minister for petroleum & natural resources, minister for railways, DCPC, sectaries from finance, water & power, petroleum & natural resources, railways, chairman BOI and other officials of the concerned ministries.