ISLAMABAD   -   The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet on Friday approved to provide 40,000 metric tonnes of wheat to Afghanistan as a gift.

The ECC, which was chaired by Finance Minister Asad Umar, has considered the proposal of Ministry of National Food Security and Research for provision of 40,000 metric tons of wheat to Afghanistan as a gift. The ECC has agreed to gift the wheat worth Rs1.73 billion to Afghanistan.

The ECC has also considered and approved a proposal from the Finance Division for provision of funds amounting to US$ 82.6 million as grant to Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPA) for disbursement to 320,000 BISP beneficiaries, helping them graduate out of poverty.

It may be added that Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF) had devised the “National Poverty Graduation Programme” (NPGP). The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) agreed to provide a loan amounting to US $82.6 million to Government of Pakistan for NPGP on concessional rates.  A Project Financing Agreement with IFAD in this regard was also signed. As per agreement, Government shall make the loan proceeds available as grant of PPAF for poverty graduation of BISP beneficiaries.

Government of Pakistan is providing unconditional Cash Transfer (UCT) to Benazir Income Support Programme's (BISP) beneficiaries since its inception in 2008-09. The government in last fiscal year 2017-18 had announced various budgetary initiatives, including "BISP Beneficiary Graduation Programme". Under the programme, selected beneficiaries of BISP will be provided with entrepreneurial training along with one-time cash grant of Rs 50, 000 to start their own business and become productive members of the society. Afterwards the disbursement or quarterly UCT of Rs 5000 to these beneficiaries will be discontinued by the BISP.

According to the summary, PPAF had devised the NPGP. The IFAD had agreed to provide a loan amounting to $82.6 million to Government of Pakistan for NPGP at highly concessional rates (free of interests with services charges 0.75% per annum and a maturity period of 40 years including 10 years grace period. Economic Affairs Division (EAD) signed project financing agreement with IFAD on November 14, 2017. As per agreement, Government shall make the loan proceeds available as grant to PPAF for poverty graduation of BISP beneficiaries.  Finance Ministry has sought ECC approval for provision of funds amounting to $82.6 million as grant to PPAF for graduation of 320,000 BISP beneficiaries in relaxation of re-lending policy of the government for implementation of NPGP.

The ECC was also given a detailed briefing on various matters pertaining to the sugar industry.