ISLAMABAD - In an apparent attempt to generate more revenue for the government, the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet on Saturday levied 15 percent regulatory duty on steel products and Rs 200/set on mobile phones.

The ECC which met under the chair of Finance Minister Senator Ishaq Dar approved levy of regulatory duty of 15 percent on steel products such as billets, bars and wire rods as well as five per cent on cold rolled coils and galvanised platted sheets.

The levy of regulatory duty aims at giving a boost to the local industry and curb dumping. The local manufacturers, it may be mentioned, had long been demanding tariff protection and imposition of regulatory duty.

The top decision-making body of the country also decided to impose regulatory duty of Rs 200 per set on mobile phones. The levy of duty on mobile phones also aims at discouraging the tendency of under-invoicing.

The ECC also considered and approved the proposal, put forward by the Ministry of Water and Power, to utilise the existing generation capacity policy for short-term independent power producers after it was made clear before the forum that the proposed policy does not contravene the Supreme Court of Pakistan judgment of March 30, 2012, in the RPPs case. The ECC allowed exemption of customs duty at the rate of 5% for the next 3 years.

The Ministry of Water and Power made it clear that the new arrangement is based on take-and-pay arrangement and it will create no obligation for the government of Pakistan to pay capacity charges.

The ECC also approved the north-south gas pipeline project under government-to-government arrangement. The project is capable of transporting 1-2 BCFD of gas from Karachi to mid-country. The pipeline project will not only help transport imported RLNG but also give transport capabilities for the Iran-Pakistan and TAPI gas pipeline projects which are expected to come on line in the next 3 to 5 years.

It was also decided that Inter-State Gas System (Pvt) Ltd be designated as the executing agency to implement the project under government-to-government arrangement in liaison with Sui Northern Gas Pipeline Limited (SNGPL) and Sui Southern Gas Company Limited (SSGCL).

On another proposal moved by the Federal Ministry of Water and Power, the ECC approved the issuance of sovereign guarantee by the Ministry of Finance in respect of syndicated term finance facility amounting to Rs 25 billion for the power sector.

The above loan has been arranged on behalf of the power distribution companies from consortium of local commercial banks. The tenure of the facility is five years with two years grace period. The repayment of the loan will be the responsibility of the respective distribution company.

Keeping in view natural gas demand/supply deficit on the supply network, the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources proposed the allocation of gas from Ayesha gas field to SSGC, which is the nearest transmission network. The proposal was approved by the ECC.

The Finance Division presented the review of the key economic indicators.

The finance secretary told the committee that during the period from July to December 2014-15 the average CPI stood at 6.08, WPI at 2.13 and SPI at 3.47. The year on year CPI-based inflation stood at 4.3% in December 2014. Pakistan has been facing comparatively less inflationary pressure as compared to India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, the ECC was informed. It was also stated that the country had sufficient stocks of wheat (6.22 million tons as on 6th January 2015) and Sugar (1.08 million tons as on December 23, 2014). As regards stock of POL products, it could meet requirements for the 18-day consumptions as on January 6, 2015.