Saturday December 04, 2021

Maintaining strategic reserves: ECC approves import of sugar, wheat

August 26, 2021
Maintaining strategic reserves: ECC approves import of sugar, wheat

ISLAMABAD: The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet on Wednesday approved the import of 200,000 metric tons of sugar and 400,000 metric tons of wheat for maintaining strategic reserves in the country.

Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue Shaukat Tarin presided over the ECC meeting. Federal Minister for Privatization Muhammad Mian Soomro, Federal Minister for Railways Azam Khan Swati, Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research Syed Fakhar Imam, Federal Secretaries, Governor State Bank of Pakistan Dr Reza Baqir, Chairman SECP Aamir Khan and other senior officers participated in the meeting.

On the recommendation of the Ministry of National Food Security and Research (NFS&R), the ECC accorded approval to import 400,000 MT of wheat and directed to explore and expedite the option for importing the remaining amount of wheat through Government-to-Government arrangement.

The ECC emphasised the importance of building strategic reserves in the wake of the evolving situation in Afghanistan, which may affect the prices in the domestic market. The government also decided to procure another 300,000 metric tons of sugar through government-to-government in a bid to bypass procurement rules under the PPRA Act.

The ECC, which met here under the chairmanship of Federal Minister for Finance and Revenues Shaukat Tarin on Wednesday, approved the summary tabled by the Ministry of Industries and Production for the import of 200,000 MT of sugar for maintaining strategic reserves.

The ECC approved import of 200,000 MT of sugar with immediate effect through TCP and directed to work out arrangements for the remaining 300,000 MT of sugar through Government to Government (G to G) mode of procurement at the earliest possible to build strategic reserves and ensure smooth supply of sugar across the country before the arrival of the fresh crop.

Similarly, the ECC also approved the corresponding financial arrangement for the import of 200,000 MT of sugar during the meeting. The secretary, M/o Industries and Production briefed the committee on the previous tenders floated for the purchase of sugar in the international market. He also apprised of cancellation of previous tenders due to volatility in the prices of commodities in the international market, particularly due to ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

He further apprised that rising transportation cost and petroleum prices have contributed significantly to the international price hike in food commodities. In his remarks, the finance minister, as a Chairman of ECC, took notice of the price fluctuations in international market of commodities and directed to constitute a sub-committee comprising secretary M/o Industries and Production, Secretary Commerce, Secretary Finance Division and Secretary Law Division to hold a consultative session and work out modalities for placing tenders in international market in a timely manner to get most affordable prices for importing food items to save precious foreign exchange reserves of the country.

He also directed to present recommendations for improving the overall estimation process by provinces through forecasting on scientific basis for commodities where price risk is involved. Proper estimates should be presented for import of particular food items to fulfil all codal formalities in a timely manner, he stressed.

The ECC considered and approved a Technical Supplementary Grant amounting to approx Rs 24,555 million (US $150 million) to NDMA for procurement of vaccine for Covid-19, including transportation and handling charges in order to meet the target of 85 million population to be vaccinated by the end of year 2021.

Lastly, a Technical Supplementary Grant was approved in favour of M/o National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination amounting to Rs2,376.266 million for the Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) for the FY 2021-22 as EPI is a high-priority initiative of the government which aims to immunize more than seven million children under 1-year of age against 10 vaccine preventable diseases (VPD)

The ECC considered and approved a request for a Technical Supplementary Grant (TSG) by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) for extending humanitarian assistance to Syria in form of edible items. The ECC allowed procurement of edible items through MOFA (Pakistan Mission in Syria) 200 tons each of rice and flour amounting to approx Rs44.24 million.