ISLAMABAD

The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) on Wednesday approved signing of LNG Sale Purchase Agreement (SPA) with Qatar Gas Operating Company-2 for a period of 15 years.

The ECC meeting, held under the chair of Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, also authorised the Pakistan State Oil (PSO) to execute the sale and purchase agreement (SPA) under government to government arrangement after completing the due process.

Pakistan has finalized the LNG deal with Qatar after it reduced the price. Qatar has reportedly reduced the LNG price from 13.9 percent to 13.37 percent of the Brent as Pakistan demanded. Qatar will also provide the LNG to Pakistan on 15-day deferred payment under the agreement. It is worth mentioning here that earlier ECC refused to approve LNG price at 13.9 percent of three months average price of the Brent.

Similarly, Qatar will also provide three LNG ships in a month. Pakistan needed four LNG ships every month from April 2016 and under the plan Qatar was supposed to provide one LNG ship in first, second and third week of every month. Now Qatar will provide third LNG ship in fourth week of every month under new deal.

The top economic decisions making body of the country, on the proposal of Ministry of National Food Security, has also approved the export of surplus wheat by the provinces of Sindh and Punjab to the tune of 200,000 tons and 400,000 tons respectively. Considering the low prices of the commodity in the international market, the Committee also decided that the subsidy will be provided to the exporters on the same lines as under the previous scheme which expired in September 2015. The new scheme will be implemented with immediate effect and will continue till 15 March, 2016.

On a proposal submitted by the Ministry of Commerce, the ECC decided that federal share of cash support on export of sugar will be allowed only to those sugar mills which purchase sugarcane at minimum price of Rs180 per 40 kg from the farmers. The Committee emphasized that such millers who do not pay the full price to the farmers should not benefit from government support for exports.

Secretary Finance presented to the Committee a review of key economic indicators. It was informed that the positive trends in the economic indicators have continued during the last quarter. During the last six months, inflation remained at 2.08% as compared to 6.08% during the same period of last year. Large scale manufacturing sector registered a growth of 4.2% in July-October 2015-16 as compared to 2.5% in the same period last year. As a result of decline in imports, the trade deficit during July-December 2015-16 stood at $ 11.9 billion compared to $12.1 billion in the corresponding period last year.

Workers’ remittances received during July-December 2015-16 amounted to $ 9,735 million against $9,162 million last year, showing increase of 6.3%. Foreign exchange reserves crossed an all time high of $21 billion in December 2015. FBR tax collection during July-December 2015-16 increased to Rs.1385.2 billion as compared to Rs. 1171.9 billion in the same period of 2014-15 thus registering an increase of 18.2%. Net inflow of foreign investment during July-November 2015-16 was recorded at $824.9 million, the ECC was informed.