ISLAMABAD - The Economic Coordination Committee on Thursday directed the Provincial Governments to take action against hoarders of food items as per law in order to provide relief to the common man.
ECC of the Cabinet met under the chairmanship of Adviser to PM on Finance and Economic Affairs, Shaukat Tarin and asked the Provincial Governments to ensure the availability of all consumer items at sales outlets.
The ECC constituted a Surveillance Committee under MINFAL comprising representatives of relevant Federal and Provincial Governments Organizations, Local Governments and DCOs concerned to look into the price control matters and submit actionable recommendations for ECC decisions.
The ECC considered Ministry of Commerce summary seeking permission for bilateral trade with India through Wagah-Attari road link and approved the proposal in the light of a decision taken in an earlier meeting between both the sides at New York on 24 September 2008, advising the authorities concerned to implement it in a phased manner commensurate with parallel development of infrastructure on both sides of the border.
The ECC reviewed Key Economic Indicators (KEI) and overall price situation in the country and noted that overall Consumer Price Index (CPI-based) inflation has registered a deceleration of 0.
4 per cent during (July-February) 2009 over the same period of last year.
It was noted that forex reserves as on 16 March 2009 stood at $ 10.
2 billion that included impact of IMF's first tranche of disbursement and other positive inflows.
It noted that inflationary pressures were likely to ease in the next few months owing to sharp decline in commodity prices particularly POL and Palm Oil.
The ECC also noted that the overall workers remittances during (July-February) in the current financial year amounted to $ 4918 million showing an increase of 19.
2 per cent.
Federal Board of Revenue collected Rs 702.
5 billion during the first eight months (July-February) depicting an increase of 20 per cent as compared to the same period of last year, the ECC was informed.
While Foreign Direct Investment during (July-January) amounted to $ 2587.
7 million registering a healthy growth of 1.
3 per cent compared with the last year's period under review.
The ECC was informed that as on 8 March 2009 domestic wheat stock stood at 1.
051 million tons, showing higher stock of about 0.
422 million tons compared with last year.
The wheat procurement target from 2008-09 crops has been fixed at 6.
55 million tons while the government has decided to import 2.
5 million tons of wheat this year to augment the domestic wheat supplies.
Out of 2.
5 million tons, the TCP so far has imported 2.
039 million tons of wheat.
The existing sugar stock was reported to be around 2.
553 million tons to supplement the open market needs and 76 per cent of planned quantity of urea (570,007 million tons) has arrived, whereas 24 per cent is due to arrive at ports, the ECC noted.
The ECC expressed satisfaction with the current account balance recording a surplus of $ 169 million in February 2009, which is a tremendous improvement upon an earlier deficit in October 2008.
While reviewing the Ministry of Communications summary proposing leasing of right of way by National Highways Authority according to an approved leasing policy, the ECC directed the Communications Division to revisit the draft Leasing Policy, and constituted a Committee comprising Ministers for Information, and Privatisation and representatives of Communications Division to technically examine the proposal and resubmit its recommendations to the ECC for approval.
Considering the Ministry of Petroleum's summary seeking approval to sign Gas Sale and Purchase Agreement (GSPA) with Iran at the offered gas price envisaging import of one billion cubic feet daily (BCFD) of natural gas constituting 25 per cent of Pakistan's current gas production in order to support 5000 MW of power generation capacity, the ECC okayed rationalized gas import proposal, simultaneously advising the Ministry of Petroleum to seek Cabinet ratification/approval before signing the said GSPA with Iran.
The ECC approved Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources summary for provision of incentives for relocation of old oil refineries to be set up in Pakistan with provision for seven years tax holiday plus other incentives package subject to application of admissible regulations, emphasizing that the said refurnished oil refineries shall undertake necessary infrastructural investment and facilitation for the socio-economic boost of Balochistan Province.
The ECC authorized FBR to waive regulatory duty @ 20 per cent on potato chips fried to be imported by International Franchise Food Chains (IFFC) operating in the country.
The ECC considered Ministry of Water and Power's proposal for power transmission enhancement multi tranche facility project, based on an earlier signed Pakistan and Asian Development Bank agreement of 20th May 2008, seeking financing for a power transmission enhancement investment programme and approved ADB loans re-lending proposal to NTDC at an interest rate of 12 per cent, including exchange risk coverage.
The ECC allowed the Ministry of Finance proposal for equity based investment abroad by resident Pakistanis comprising a request of M/s Educational Services Pvt Limited (ESL) to remit an amount of $ 17.
5 million to its wholly-owned UK based subsidiary (ESL) titled New Silk Route UK and approved the proposal.
The ECC allowed the MINFAL to enter into an agreement with M/s Monsanto of USA for implementation of a collaboration-based action plan that would lead to Bt.
Cotton Technology transfer.
The said technology transfer has been found successful in saving the cotton crop from bollworm losses and finally leads to increased cotton crop yield by economizing cost of production.
The ECC, however, constituted a Steering Committee under MINFAL to look into the follow-up technical issues based on the action plan.

This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 20-Mar-2009 here.