ISLAMABAD -  The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet on Wednesday decided for not deregulating the sugarcane prices after three provinces opposed the proposal of the federal government.

The ECC considered and approved a proposal of Ministry of Industries & Production, finalized with consensus, for not deregulating the price of sugarcane. Last year, the ECC had proposed that price of sugarcane may be deregulated from next season (2017) to eliminate government’s involvement and provision of subsidy. However, three provinces i.e. Punjab, Sindh and KPK had not supported the proposal. They said if sugarcane prices are deregulated, mill owners will fleece the growers.

The ECC meeting, which was chaired by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, also approved the proposal of Ministry of Commerce for extending the deadline for export of sugar from 31stMay 2017 till 31st July 2017. The ECC directed the relevant ministries to ensure price stability especially during the holy month of Ramazan.

On a proposal moved by the Privatization Division, ECC granted post-facto approval for payment of one month’s salary to the employees of Pakistan Steel Mills Corporation (PSMC) for the month of February 2017. As Ramzan was to begin in the last week of May 2017, Chairman ECC had previously accorded anticipatory approval in this regard. Also, keeping in view the fact that Eid-ul-Fitr will will fall in the last week of June, the ECC also directed that the salary of PSMC employees for the month of March 2017 may be disbursed before the last week of June.

The ECC approved the proposal of Cabinet Division for provision of bridge financing to the tune of Rs. 864 million for facilitating the Printing Corporation of Pakistan in procuring new printing machines for meeting the requirement of the Election Commission of Pakistan, including with respect to General Elections 2018.

While considering a proposal of the Economic Affairs Division, ECC approved the exemption from the payment of General Sales Tax (GST) for the German Development Agency – GIZ, in respect of goods purchased by GIZ. This exemption shall also be available on procurement of services by GIZ received in Islamabad Capital Territory. This decision has been made to support the development activities carried out by GIZ in Pakistan.

The ECC accorded approval to the proposal of the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Resources that up to 10 MMCFD gas from Tolanj field may be allocated to M/s SNGPL. The price of gas will be as per the applicable Petroleum Policy.

ECC approved another proposal from the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Resources for allocation of 2.9 MMCFD gas from Khamiso-01 well, located in district Ghotki, to M/s Engro Fertilizer during the Extended Well Testing (EWT) period and post-approval of commerciality/D&P lease of the field.

ECC approved a proposal of the Ministry of Water & Power for provision of a government guarantee by the Ministry of Finance for repayment of loan as well as interest, for a syndicated term finance facility for the power sector amounting to Rs. 41 billion. The amount will be utilized for the purposes of funding the repayment liabilities of the Distribution Companies (DISCOs), through arrangement between Power Holding Private Limited and DISCOs.

ECC also considered and approved a proposal from Finance Division regarding revised pay packages for the employees of PSDP funded projects.

ECC approved a proposal of the Ministry of Water & Power for amendments in the support package for provision of power for the Industrial sector.

OGRA also made a presentation to the ECC regarding the trends in the prices of petroleum products. It was noted that sales tax and PD levy on petroleum prices was currently much lower than 2013 in most cases.