ISLAMABAD – The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the cabinet Friday approved fortnightly revision of the fuel prices and endorsed purchase of 7.7 million tonnes of wheat from farmers at the rate of Rs1,050 per 40kg.The committee, which met under the chair of Finance Minister Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, granted the petroleum ministry’s request to fix the fuel prices after each fifteen days – against the previous practice of doing so after a month.However sources informed that Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Water and Power, and the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) had opposed this proposal. Ogra officials told the meeting that this move would encourage hoarding of petroleum products. The demand for this step originated from the oil refineries, which cited quick fluctuation of prices in international market. Another argument presented to the ECC was the political advantage as Ogra would be able to pass on the change (mostly increase) in oil prices in two parts instead of giving one huge jolt to the consumers at the end of the month, sources maintained.The meeting also approved another summary of the petroleum ministry to give exemption of taxes and duties on gas input pipelines and LNG projects. The ministry sought exemption of Sales Tax/Federal Excise Duty (ST/FED) on imported natural gas, ST exemption for EPC Contractors involved in the gas import projects, exemption from customs duties on HR Coils, Line pipe, Pylons/Piles, temporary importation of plant, equipment, machinery, LNG terminals and peripheral infrastructures etc to be allowed for the projects duty free on import cum export basis, addition of natural gas infrastructure importers and its developers and collection of applicable taxes, duties and deferment of any other levies till the commencement of commercial operations of the natural gas and LNG import projects, on the analogy of such facility provided to power projects by ECC in July 2009.On a summary moved by Ministry of Food Security and Research on the public sector procurement of wheat crop, the committee discussed at length the requirements by the federal government’s extension of credit guarantees to the provinces. After devolution, the provinces are allowed to lift the wheat to maintain strategic reserves. There was a consensus in the meeting that provinces have the inalienable right to lift wheat but the debate went on the extension of credit cash guarantees to the provinces on the amount of purchasing wheat after the increase in the support price of wheat from Rs950 to 1,050. The ECC, after much deliberation, agreed to approve the summary.Sources said that decision on LPG airmixing proposal was deferred. Ogra has strongly apposed the proposal as it would increase the consumer gas tariff and benefit stakeholders at the cost of the general public. The ECC however approved increasing the price of low pressure gas by $2.50 per MMBTU. The committee also approved establishment of subsidiaries of United Bank Limited (UBL) Pakistan in Tanzania and Institutional Investment in National Savings Scheme (NSS).Moreover, it approved the summary for the extension of date of completion of BYCO Oil Pakistan limited to avail 7.6 years tax holiday. BYCO Petroleum Pakistan was given tax holiday for 7.6 years and it was to be completed by the end of 2011, however, the refinery could not be commissioned by the stipulated time. The petroleum ministry recommended granting extension of the facility up to the end of 2012.The meeting among others was attended by Minister for Petroleum and Natural Recourse Dr Asim Hussain, Minister for Water and Power Naveed Qamar, Minister for Production Anwar Cheema, Minister for Privatisation Ghaus Baksh and Minister for Railways Ghulam Ahmad Bilour, and Planning Commission Deputy Chairman, secretaries for Railways, Finance, Economic Affairs Division and Petroleum ministry.