ISLAMAABD - The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet on Friday allowed the import of CNG cylinders/kits and lifted ban on import of live animals from countries, which have been declared as negligible risk by World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).

The ECC, which met at the Prime Minister’s Office with Finance Minister Senator Ishaq Dar in the chair, discussed several important issues. The ECC approved immediate release of 60,000MT of wheat for distribution among the IDPs (internally displace persons) of North Waziristan Agency. The financial impact of the decision will be Rs 2.28 billion. The ECC further decided to set up a committee, headed by Minister for SAFRON Abdul Qadir Baloch, to ascertain a mechanism for the distribution of wheat among the IDPs. The other members of the committee are Minister for Textile Industry Abbas Khan Afridi, secretaries of Ministry of National Food Security and Commerce and a representative of the KP governor.

The ECC, on a summary of the Ministry of Commerce, approved lifting of ban on import of live animals from the countries which have been declared as having negligible risk by World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), excluding Israel. The countries include the United States of America, New Zealand, Japan, Italy, India and others.

However, the ban on import of feeds containing mad cow-infected animals, commonly known as mad cow disease, shall continue. It was also decided that animals from only such herds shall be allowed for import where there has been no reported case of BSE for the last 11 years, duly certified by the veterinary authority of the exporting country.

It may be mentioned that in June 2001, a ban was imposed for import of live animals, meat etc from BSE-infected countries. In May 2013, OIE updated the risk status and allowed import of live animals and other products from 25 countries with negligible risk status.

The US, Canada and some European countries had been pressing Pakistan to review the existing import policy pertaining to live animals and animals’ products and remove the ban on live animals’ import from SEC-infected countries.

The ECC also approved a summary of Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources for allowing import of CNG cylinders/kits/parts thereof for conversion of vehicles at manufacturing/assembling facilities of original equipment manufacturers (OEMS). The ministry suggested lifting of ban on import of CNG cylinders/kits, as it was encouraging installation of smuggled and unapproved kits in vehicles, which is hazardous for public safety.

The ECC, on the recommendation of the Ministry of Industries and Production, decided to approve average transportation cost of Rs 20 per 50 Kg of imported urea bags from the National Fertilizer Marketing Limited warehouses to dealers’ stores to facilitate farmers in the upcoming cultivation season. This will entail a subsidy of Rs 150 million.

The ECC also approved another summary of Ministry of Commerce for extension of deadline up to Oct 31, 2014, for export of 0.25 million MT of sugar which was already approved by ECC at its meeting held on March 27, 2014. The ECC further decided to extend the shipment period from 45 to 90 days for export and reduce advance deposit from 25% to 15%. It was further decided that there would be no confiscation of advance deposits by the exporters if they fulfill their quota in 90 days.

Meanwhile, sources informed The Nation that the ECC did not take up the summary of the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources, which was going to pass Rs 49 billion on to gas consumers after failure to contain the huge gas theft losses. The sources were of the view that the summary was not part of the agenda of the meeting.

Similarly, the ECC did not discuss one of the agenda items, issuance of NOCs for new CNG stations by Ogra, despite the ban imposed by the government. 

In his opening remarks, the finance minister said the ministries concerned should submit their summaries well in advance and necessary background information must be provided, enabling the departments concerned to provide their considered inputs before decision-making process. He said the mover of the summary should be fully aware and updated to answer any supplementary questions. He added inter-ministerial comments should be obtained prior to the ECC meetings.

The finance minister said once a decision is taken, it is expected that the secretary concerned will follow up the decision till its logical conclusion. He further said that budgetary implications must be clearly specified in the summary and how the additional amounts will be adjusted in the budget.

The meeting was also attended by Minster for Water and Power Khawaja Muhammad Asif, Minister for Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage Senator Pervaiz Rashid, Minister for Industries and Production Ghulam Murtaza Khan Jatoi, Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Minister for Science and Technology Zahid Hamid, Minister for National Food Security Sikandar Hayat Khan Bosan, Minister for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafiq, Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Abbas Khan Afridi, federal secretaries and senior officials of the government.