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September 17, 2020

ECC defers 1.5 million tons of wheat import


September 17, 2020

ISLAMABAD: The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the cabinet on Wednesday deferred import of 1.5 million tons of wheat by the Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP), asking food security ministry to come up with more details in the next meeting.

Adviser to the Prime Minster on Finance Hafeez Shaikh directed the ministry of food during the ECC meeting to come up with figures of exact procurement done by the provinces and why the provinces are not importing wheat.

A heated debate occurred on the summary of food security ministry that sought approval of 1.5 million tons of wheat import through public sector.

Minister for Planning Asad Umar raised objection over the summary tabled by food ministry.

“PM (Prime Minister) did not issue any direction for importing of wheat so why the directive of PM was used as an excuse to make a case for importing wheat,” Umar said.

The ECC is scheduled to meet on Friday (tomorrow) to take final decision on import of 1.5 million tons of wheat through TCP.

The ECC meeting had wheat import issue in its agenda. The government has encouraged wheat imports from government and private importers.

“The issue being critical in nature would be further deliberated in a special meeting of the ECC to be held within the current week,” an official statement quoted Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Hafeez Shaikh as saying.

The first vessel carrying 60,804 metric tons of wheat from Ukraine arrived Karachi port last month and additional eight vessels carrying around 500,000 metric tons of wheat are to reach by the last week of the ongoing month.

The Department of Plant Protection has already issued permits to private sector to import 1.5 mmt of wheat following the ECC approval in June. Wheat production is estimated to run short of about one million tons and may be around 25.7 to 26 million tons this year.

ECC further allowed the amendment into the import of duty-free cars under disabled-persons scheme. Under the new amendments, the income bracket of the person who is importing the vehicle was increased from the current limit of Rs20,000 to R100,000 to Rs100,000 to Rs200,000 per month. The person will be allowed to import the vehicle if he has not imported or purchased locally assembled car during the last 10 years under the scheme provided that he holds national tax number certificate and files annual tax return.

The ECC took notice that the government allowed 400 vehicles for import of disabled person out of which only three to four vehicles were imported into the country. The ECC directed the officials to ascertain the stumbling blocks in imports despite all requisite approvals.

ECC further approved the Incorporation of Pakistan single window company under section 42 of the Companies Act 2017 with its objectives as contained in the memorandum and articles of association. The composition of the board of its directors was also approved.

ECC also approved the provision of technical supplementary grant of Rs220 million for the reimbursement of the expenditure of National Coordination Committee on COVID-19 for the current financial year. The ECC approved Rs6 billion for the ministry of railways as additional grant at Rs500 million per month to defray its mandatory liabilities including pay and pensions.

Two technical supplementary grants amounting to Rs160 million and Rs96 million were approved for the ministry of federal education and professional training to carry out the “Skill for all” program. The publication of rolling spectrum strategy 2020/2023 was also approved.