ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that his government will go to any extent to provide relief to the masses especially the poor and the salaried class.

Imran Khan said this while chairing an important meeting held here yesterday to discuss measures to ensure provision of essential commodities to the people at reduced rates across the country.

The PM said that the government cannot act as a silent spectator on the difficulties being faced by the poor people.

It was also decided that the decisions taken by the prime minister to provide relief to the common people will be announced after the cabinet meeting today.

In a related development, the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet banned sugar export in order to control its soaring price in the country and without taking the option of the commodity’s import.

Prime Minister Imran Khan last week had decided to impose ban on sugar export.

Following the decision, the ECC, being the competent forum, has decided to ban the sugar export.

ECC has immediately stopped the export of 350,000 tons of the remaining export quota of sugar.

Pakistan had exported 141,447 metric tons of sugar in six months (July to December 2019), according to Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS).

ECC chaired by Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Abdul Hafeez Shaikh observed that there are sufficient and adequate stocks of sugar in the country.

The ECC directed the Ministry of Industries and Production to monitor sugar prices and availability situation in the country. It has also asked the ministry to give feedback if there is a need to import sugar any time in future to discourage hoarding and profiteering.

The ECC further directed that in case there is a considerable decrease in available stocks, ECC would be willing to reconsider the proposal for import of sugar as well as the removal of tariff and taxes on the import.

ECC was given a briefing by the Ministry of Industries and Production on the current situation of sugar supply in the country. It was briefed to the ECC that adequate stocks of Sugar are available in the country but prices in both domestic and international market are showing an upward trend.

The ECC decided not to import sugar after reviewing the current stock. Around 1.719 million tons of sugar stock is available in the country. Traditionally, a strategic reserve of two months is maintained in the country with a monthly requirement of 0.458 million tons.

While the sugar stock is available for three months, the position will further improve when the crushing season will complete in March. Therefore, the ECC has decided not to import sugar.

ECC also directed the ministry to talk to provincial governments to control price of the commodity as it is a provincial subject.

Sugar prices had started rising a couple of months ago, but as the government had put the issue on the backburner. The federal government has banned sugar exports when commodity prices are hovering around Rs 90 per kg in the retail market. The sugar industry maintains that it is paying Rs 200/40kg to the farmers in areas due to shortage of sugarcane, adding that the industry has to recover the cost from consumers.

ECC also accepted the request by Ministry of Law and Justice for a technical supplementary grant of $1 million as legal and miscellaneous expenses in the case of Reko-Diq. ECC also directed the Ministry to give a briefing on the details of the case in the next meeting.

ECC considered and approved the Technical Supplementary Grant for the release of funds amounting to Rs 3300 million during FY 2019-20 in respect of the project tilted “Prime Minister’s special package to implement “Skill for All” strategy as catalyst for TVET sector Development in Pakistan.