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November 8, 2018

ECC approves 50,000tns of urea import to meet winter demand


November 8, 2018

ISLAMABAD: The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the cabinet on Wednesday approved import of 50,000 tons of urea on immediate basis to avert shortage of the key nutrient in the ongoing winter crop season.

Finance Minister Asad Umar presided over a meeting of the ECC to take the decision, proposed by the Ministry of National Food Security and Research. The ECC allowed urea import to meet requirements of farmers in winter crops sowing, starting from October till March.

The committee also authorised the Advisor to the Prime Minister on Commerce and Industries to allow import of an additional quantity of 50,000 tons, “if required”. The ECC said fertiliser plants may be run at a full-scale throughout the rabi season for adequate production of urea and preventing its shortage.

It said no undue increase in prices of urea will be tolerated on the pretext of increase in gas prices. The summary tabled before the ECC proposed that the urea plants, like Pakarab Fertilizer, Fatima Fertilizer and Agritech Limited need to resume operation with supply of subsidised mix of re-gasified liquefied natural gas and natural gas throughout the season to prevent expected urea shortage.

The committee also decided to keep wheat support price at the existing level of Rs1,300 per 40 kilograms. The food ministry forwarded the proposals to maintain wheat prices as escalation in support price could be tantamount to stoking inflationary pressure, which has already been rising in the recent months.

The meeting noted that wheat prices in the international market are considerably lower and the government is incurring a huge expenditure in wheat procurement process as it wants to protect interest of the farmers.

ECC also approved proposal of the food ministry to enhance Pakistan’s share of wheat for the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation Food Bank Reserve to 80,000 tons from 40,000 tons, adjusting it in the existing quantum of one million metric tons of national strategic reserves assigned to Pakistan Agricultural Storage and Services Corporation.

The ECC also decided to propose amendments into tax law related to molasses of sugar industry but asked the concerned authorities to come up with a proposal after holding consultations with Pakistan Sugar Mills Association.

The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has given a clean chit to sugar millers from allegation of tax evasion and informed the ECC that there was a need to plug tax leakages on molasses. The FBR chairman proposed that a revised mechanism should be put in place to ensure that the full amount of due taxes are recovered from the sugar industry.

The ECC directed the FBR to place the matter before the cabinet after consulting the stakeholders within one week. The finance ministry said the ECC also directed the power division to actively engage with the concerned companies / entities to facilitate clearance of Pakistan State Oil’s outstanding receivables of more than Rs 300 billion as early as possible to stave off any risk of disruption in supply chain of petroleum products and energy.

The ECC approved the proposal of the Privatization Division for disbursement of Rs367 million as one month’s (September) salary to the employees of Pakistan Steel Mills. The ECC also directed the ministry of industries to take immediate action for disbursement of outstanding dues to widows of Pakistan Steel Mills’ deceased employees, which have been pending for the last almost four years.

The Economic Coordination Committee also directed the ministry of industries and production to submit a detailed proposal to bring Pakistan Steel Mills back to normal operation since the mills were excluded from the privatisation list.

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