ISLAMABAD - Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) Tuesday sanctioned release of Rs 27 billion-budgeted fertiliser subsidy till December 2008 to encourage farmers to sow maximum wheat for having food security by providing them cheap fertilisers. The Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet, which met under the chair of Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani, approved a summary of Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock for subsidy on DAP fertiliser to promote balanced use of fertilisers for increasing crop yield. The government is subsiding fertiliser to encourage its use in wheat sowing aimed at having food security by achieving bumper crop target of the year. The government has already increased wheat support price to Rs 950 per 40 kilogram. The Prime Minister directed the authorities concerned to ensure that the subsidy must be passed down to the farmers besides ensuring surplus availability of fertilisers' stock in the country. The meeting was informed that total financial impact of subsidy would be around Rs 27 billion and the price capping facility would be available till December 31, 2008 to facilitate the farmers during sowing season of wheat. The ECC also accorded approval to the Ministry of Water and Power summary for giving sovereign guarantees for Rs 15 billion-syndicated loan for power generation and distribution companies to pay off dues to oil and gas sectors after commercial banks' refusal to entertain their request without sovereign assurance. These arrears have been accumulated over the time on account of cost difference between electricity generation and distribution. The power generation and distribution companies have already pledged whatever assets they had to obtain Rs 168 billion loan to pay their dues. The commercial banks have conveyed to the power generation and distribution companies that new loans will be sanctioned after getting sovereign guarantees. The ECC decision would help ease liquidity pressure being faced by the power sector. The ECC didn't accord the approval to the Natural Gas Load Management Programme for winter 2008-09 and formed a committee to ease the industrial sector woes. The Load Management Programme earlier approved by the Economic Monitoring Committee. It was finalised after taking into account input from all stakeholders and focusing sectoral consumption in terms of volume and percentage. The committee has been tasked to take on board all the stakeholders and come up with concrete proposals, which should not impair the power generation capacity in order to minimise the loadshedding in the country. The committee to be headed by the Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Finance and Economic Affairs will include Secretaries of the Ministries of Industries, Petroleum, Water & Power, and Commerce. The Committee will submit its report within one week. The domestic sector was proposed to remain unaffected from gas loadshedding. The programme envisaged first priority for domestic and commercial sectors followed by the industrial sector. Total gas consumption demand during December, first month of the peak period, is estimated at 2,567 MMCFD. The gas consumption forecast, based on adjustable shortfall, has been proposed to address through readjustments amongst various sectors taking into consideration national priorities. Taking notice of the unsatisfactory performance of the Karachi Electricity Supply Company (KESC) and the need to introduce improvements, the ECC approved the proposal by the Ministry of Water and Power for facilitating investment by Abraaj Investment Management Limited in the KESC. This would allow amending Share Purchase Agreement, revising implementation agreement and resolving outstanding payments related to KESC. Minister for Ports and Shipping Naveed Qamar informed the meeting that the wheat shipments were being delayed due to congestion at the ports. The Prime Minister expressed concern and constituted a committee to look into the problem and suggest measures for unclogging the ports and ensuring speedy transportation of wheat to the inland destinations. The committee to be chaired by the Minister for Ports & Shipping and will include Minister for Finance, the MINFAL and Commerce Ministers. The Prime Minister also constituted a committee to examine the issue of over invoicing. The committee to be headed by the Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Finance & Economic Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar, including Chairman FBR, Chairman TDAP, Secretary Finance and representative of the State Bank. The Investment Division made a special presentation to the ECC on the policy framework for setting up of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) across the country.