In the meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) on Friday, the government of Pakistan has approved the import of 200,000 metric tonnes of sugar as part of the plan to keep strategic reserves.
Along with this, the government has increased the prices of necessary items like wheat flour, ghee, and sugar by 53 per cent for sale through the Utility Stores Corporation.
These among other important economic decisions were made in this meeting presided by Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin and attended by only two out of the fourteen ECC members.
The sugar import would allow the government to build reserves as a countermeasure for the speculative elements in the local market. The committee decided that in case of future requirements the reserves can be replenished by importing more sugar as well.
The increase in the prices of necessary goods was decided as the gap between the subsidized prices at the utility stores and the market prices were increasing.
The ECC increased the price of ghee at USC outlets by almost from Rs170 to Rs260 per kg and the price of wheat flour to Rs950 per 20kg bag from its existing rate of Rs800. Sugar prices saw an increase from Rs68 per kg to Rs85 per kg.
Similarly, the committee also allowed the import of 0.2 million bales of cotton to meet the demand of the local textile industry.
Cotton Price Review Committee (CPRC) was constituted in the meeting with a mandate to review market prices and propose intervention on a fortnightly basis.
During the meeting, the Ministry of Industries and Production presented a summary regarding the extension of the Prime Minister’s Relief Package-2020 providing subsidies on five essential commodities from 15th July 2021 to 30th September 2021.
Kamyab Pakistan Programme
The ECC approved the “Kamyab Pakistan Programme” to extend micro-loans to entrepreneurs and farmers under “Kamyab Karobar” and “Kamyab Kissan” schemes, respectively.
Under the umbrella of Naya Pakistan Housing Development Authority, this scheme would also ensure the provision of low-cost housing loans to the people.
It is done by the introduction of a new tier in the Naya Pakistan Low-Cost Housing Scheme, wherein, the loans of Rs2.7 million (for NAPHDA) and Rs2 million (for non-NAPHDA) projects will be given at subsidized rates.
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According to Dawn, the meeting appreciated the development initiative under the Kamyab Pakistan Programme, and its aims of reducing poverty in the country.
It was decided that koans worth Rs0.5 million, Rs0.150 million, and Rs0.2 million through micro-finance providers for Kamyab Karobar and Kamyab Kissan at 0 per cent mark-up will be provided.
The salient features of the Kamyab Pakistan Program include a loan size of Rs150,000 (per crop) for the purchase of agricultural inputs. This would promote the agriculture sector of Pakistan.
The finance minister said the consultative process was followed in working out modalities of the KPP ensuring that all relevant stakeholders were on board and micro-loans shall be disbursed as per the given criteria.
The much-hyped topic of the power sector was also discussed. The committee approved a summary tabled by the Power Division regarding non-cash settlement for power sector re-lent loans against subsidies payable by the Government of Pakistan equal to Rs116 billion.
According to dawn, the power division had suggested book adjustments of Rs97.35bn against liabilities of National Transmission and Dispatch Company (NTDC), Wapda, Chashma plants of Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC), Neelum-Jhelum Hydropower Company (NJHPCL).
The meeting was informed that the four entities have Rs273.2bn of liabilities of relent loans as of May 30, 2021.
However, the receivables of these entities amounting to Rs347bn as of June 30, 2020, were outstanding against Central Power Purchasing Agency (CPPA) – another public sector entity.
In the telecom sector, the ECC approved the Draft Policy Directives related to the Auction of Next Generation Mobile Services (NGMS) in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) as submitted by the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication before the Committee.
Committee also approved a summary to eliminate the requirement of document attestation fee for goods imported from Kenya. There was an agreement that this would increase the ease of doing business and incentivize trade between two countries.
A summary by the Ministry of Maritime Affairs for an award of Rs86.6 million engineering consultancy service contract to upgrade Port Qasim Authority (PQA) was also approved by the committee.
‘Prime Minister’s fiscal package for agriculture in the wake of COVID-19 Kharif’ was amended so that farmers can avail subsidy on any phosphatic fertilizer of their own choice.