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Thursday, February 15, 2024

ECC green signals the import of wheat, sugar

The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet has approved the import of 200,000 tonnes of sugar and 400,000 tonnes of wheat to build the strategic reserves in order to stabilize the price of these commodities in the market. A subcommittee was constituted to work out modalities for placing tenders in the international market in a timely manner.

The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet approved the import of 200,000 tons of sugar and 400,000 tons of wheat on Wednesday.

The committee chaired by Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin approved this to build up strategic reserves in order to maintain the price of the two commodities in the local market.

The ECC approved the import of 200,000 tons of sugar with immediate effect through the Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) out of an already approved quantity of about 600,000 tons for strategic reserves to contain price hikes.

The committee directed the relevant departments to work out the arrangements for the import of the rest of the 300,000 tons of sugar through the government-to-government mode of procurement at the earliest and ensure a smooth supply of the commodity throughout Pakistan before the new crop arrives.

The meeting was informed that 100,000 tons of sugar had already been imported while tenders for another 200,000 tons had to be previously canceled due to higher international prices that worked out at about Rs102-103 per kg.

The secretary for the Ministry of Industries and Production also briefed the committee on the previous tenders that were floated for the purchase of sugar in the international market.

He informed the committee about the cancellation of tenders was due to the volatility in the prices of commodities in the international market, caused by the ongoing pandemic. He cited rising transportation costs and petroleum prices as major factors contributing to the increase in prices of food commodities in the international market.

Taking note of the price fluctuations in the international market of commodities, the finance minister ordered the formulation of a sub-committee comprising the secretary Ministry of Industries and Production, the Secretary of Commerce, the Secretary of Finance Division, and the Secretary of Law Division.

This sub-committee will hold a consultative session and work out modalities for placing tenders in the international market in a timely manner to get the most affordable price for importing food items to save precious foreign exchange reserves of the country.

He asked to be presented with the recommendations for improving the overall estimation process by provinces through making forecasts on a scientific basis for commodities where price risk is involved.

Read More: Sugar: Poisoning our health, industry and economy (part 2)

Proper estimates should be presented for the import of particular food items to fulfill all codal formalities in a timely manner, he stressed.

On the other hand, on the recommendation of the Ministry of National Food Security and Research, the ECC approved the import of 400,000 tons of wheat also for strategic reserves.

The committee directed the relevant personnel to explore and expedite the option for importing the remaining amount of wheat through the government-to-government arrangements.

The meeting also approved Rs24.555 as a technical supplementary grant for the procurement of Covid-19 vaccines and Rs44.24 million was approved for the procurement of 200 tons of rice and wheat flour through the Pakistan Mission in Syria, to extend humanitarian assistance to Syria.2

The vaccination grant was approved keeping in mind the year-end target of vaccinating 85 million Pakistanis.

The ECC also approved a summary of the Ministry of National Food Security and Research for exemption of all applicable duties/taxes on the import of 12 drones donated by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MARA), China for controlling desert locusts in Pakistan.

The meeting also approved another technical supplementary grant (TSG)  to the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations, and Coordination amounting to Rs2.376bn for the Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) for the FY 2021-22 as the EPI is a high-priority government initiative which aims to immunize more than seven million children under one year of age against 10 vaccine-preventable diseases.

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.

Read More: Sugar: Poisoning our health, industry and economy