ISLAMABAD - The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the cabinet on Tuesday approved the relief package worth Rs 2.532 billion for the holy month of Ramazan in a bid to provide basic commodities at subsidised rates at Utility Stores Corporation (USC) outlets to the common people.

According to the Ramazan package, the government would provide Rs 2.532 billion subsidy on food and edible commodities to the common people through 5,700 USC outlets in Pakistan in the holy month. This relief package will be effective from 15 July. The subsidy will be Rs.6 on one Kg of (flour) Atta, Rs.15 on ghee/oil and Rs.10 on each commodity of dal channa, bason, dates, rice basmati, rice sela, rice broken.  Ministry of industries had moved the summary of Ramazan package in the Economic Coordination Committee meeting, chaired by Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, the Federal Minister for Finance and Economic Affairs.

Meanwhile, on a summary moved by Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources regarding policy guideline on “LPG air mix, CNG or LNG based pipeline distribution projects undertaken by the Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited & Sui Southern Gas Company Limited”, the ECC approved import of LPG equivalent to 250 tonnes with a cost computed on the basis of weighed average cost of gas. However, key decision of procurement methodology and tendering will be brought to ECC through a detailed presentation in the next meeting. ECC also requested law ministry to look further into the matter regarding price determination of LPG on monthly or six-monthly basis. The summary regarding deregulation of High Octane Blending Component (HOBC) by removal of inland freight equalisation margin (IFEM) proposed by Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources deferred by ECC for the next meeting.

On a summary regarding donation of wheat to the food-poor and malnourished people of Pakistan through the World Food Programme on cost-sharing basis proposed by Ministry of National Food Security and Research, the ECC decided that Ministry of National Food Security and Research will come up in next meeting after having due consultation with World Food Programme on the said matter.

There has been a lengthy discussion on the proposal of “Changes in Composition of Business Express” moved by Ministry of Railways, in which the ministry contented that JV Partners from the very outset failed to meet most of major contractual obligations like guaranteed revenue of Rs.3.19 million was to be paid in advance, a commitment that has never been fulfilled. In the same way, guaranteed revenue was to be paid in full whereas the JV Partners have been making payments in instalments and so on. After detailed discussion, the Chairman ECC constituted a committee comprising Minister for Information, Chairman Board of Investment, Sectary Railways and Deputy Chairman Planning Commission, which will look further into the matter.

ECC also approved the summary for the increase in amount of GOP sovereign guarantee from Rs 5.300b to Rs 19.150b in favour of local banks syndicate as a time gap arrangement till extension/effectiveness of foreign loans and additional wavier of demurrage & detention charges Rs.856.591m - 425MW Nandipur Power Project.

ECC also discussed summary regarding protection to Motor Cycle Industry in Pakistan moved by Ministry of Commerce in which Ministry proposed recommendations that new eight digit tariff lines be created in Pakistan Custom Tariff for all the parts of 125CC motorcycles with 5 per cent tariff in case of new entrants. In the same way ministry proposed that while reducing the duty on Completely Build Unit and Completely Knock Down {in case of non-assemblers} from 65 per cent to 35 per cent. The duties on parts and components may also be reduced as recommended by National Tariff Commission to protect the minimum cascading needed by the local industry. After due deliberation ECC constituted a committee comprising Minister for Water & Power, Minister for Petroleum, Minister for Information, Chairman BOI, Secretary Water & Power, DCPC and representatives from Ministry of Industries and FBR to look further into the matter.

ECC also approved Natural Gas Load Management plan proposed by Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Resources but subject to approval from Prime Minister.

The Ministry of Petroleum proposed in the above mentioned summary that supply of natural gas to power sector should be prioritized over supply to fertilizer sector after domestic sector for in the wake of current loadshedding in the country. 

ECC also approved a summary to re-constitute Pakistan Central Cotton Committee and increase in the rate of cotton cess with the provision that a functional re-structuring plan of Central Cotton Committee should be presented thoroughly in the next ECC meeting.

The other summaries which were approved by ECC or “Revised Draft Low BTU Gas Pricing Policy, 2012m,” Policy Package for Establishment of Economic Zones Including China-Pakistan Economic Zone (CPEZ)” and “Approval for Opening of Branch at Colombo, Sri Lanka a Request by National Bank of Pakistan”.