ISLAMABAD - The PTI-led coalition government on Tuesday once again delayed the increase in electricity tariff apparently due to upcoming by-elections.

The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet, which met under the chair of Finance Asad Umar, considered the proposal regarding tariff rationalization for power sector. However, it was deferred on the request from the Finance and Power Divisions which asked for further time to deliberate the proposed revisions.

However, sources informed The Nation that government does not want to enhance power tariff before the by-elections, which would be held on October 14. The government had already enhanced the gas prices by up to 143 percent and announced mini budget with new taxation measures of Rs178 billion. Therefore, the government has avoided taking anti people decision of increasing power tariff .

The ECC has also allowed exporting of one million metric tons surplus sugar amid sufficient stock of commodity in the country. No freight or financial support will be provided to millers/exporters by the federal/provincial governments in this regard. Only those sugar mills will be allowed to export sugar which have paid arrears to farmers for all the crops up to 2017-18. Moreover an inter-ministerial committee will have fortnightly meetings to review sugar stock, export and price situation.

The Ministry of Commerce moved a summary in the ECC meeting to consider allowing sugar exports. An inter-ministerial committee recently proposed to export 1 million metric tons (MMT) of sugar without any subsidy to the ECC.

Production of sugar is expected at around 6.617 MMT after the recent crushing season in the country with net excess of about 2 million tons. Total surplus sugar by the end of season will be 1.962 MMT. After deducting strategic reserves of two months i.e. 0.866 MMT, there will be a net surplus of 1.096 MMT of sugar, therefore it will be safe to recommend export of 1 MMT without making it time-bound and it can be reviewed by the monitoring committee, the ministry recommended.

On another proposal of Ministry of Commerce, the ECC accorded approval for revision of cess rates of tobacco for the year 2018-19 as determined by the Pakistan Tobacco Board. It may be added that prices of various types of tobacco are fixed every year and cess rates are also revised.

In consideration of proposal submitted by the Ministry of Privatization, ECC approved disbursement of Rs. 375 million on account of net salary for the employees of Pakistan Steel Mill for the month of August 2018.

ECC directed immediate formation of special committee comprising representatives from Finance, Power Division, Auditor General of Pakistan, Ministry of Petroleum, FBR to address various issues relating to transfer of shares of K-Electric. It may be mentioned that ECC, earlier on 3rd September, had directed Privatization Division to deliberate upon the issues relating to the sale of K-Electric in consultation with Petroleum and Power Divisions. In order to further facilitate resolution of various issues, formation of the special committee has now been ordered.

ECC was given a detailed briefing by Ministry of Petroleum relating to the LNG terminals. The Committee directed Ministry of Law to examine the legal agreements relating to the terminals to see whether the government could revisit the terms and conditions contained therein.

ECC, taking notice of the sudden hike in cement price, directed the Adviser on Industries to have meeting with representatives of the industry, apprise the Committee of the causes of price increase and also suggest possible remedies.

ECC also approved proposal from the Ministry of Defence Production for a sovereign guarantee to back the export of JF-17 Thunder Aircrafts by PAC Kamra.