LAHORE - The government has decided not to participate in the seventh session of Pak-Afghan Joint Economic Commission (JEC) being held in Afghanistan at Kabul from July 26 to 27, sources told TheNation here Tuesday. The decision was taken in the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) meeting here with Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani in the chair following President Hamid Karzai's allegations that Pakistan army and the intelligence agencies were responsible for the recent bomb blast in Kabul. The Pakistani delegation was scheduled to leave for Kabul on July 25 led by minister for finance to participate in the Pak-Afghan joint commission. They said the bilateral trade in the formal sector between Pakistan and Afghanistan witnessed a decline of almost 400 million dollars in 2006-07 as the Pakistani manufacturers have been losing out to mainly Iranian and Indian competitors. However, Pakistan has targeted to increase its exports to Afghanistan to two billion dollars by 2010-11. Amongst Pakistan's exports to Afghanistan, rice, textiles and garments top the list. They said that presently, most of the trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan takes place in the informal sector, where the volume of clandestine business (smuggling or re-routing of Afghan transit trade goods) between the two countries is estimated to be more than $ 10 billion. They said that the formation JEC took place in 2002, making both the states possible to re-examine their trade ties and formulate plans to strengthen economic collaboration. They said the Federation of Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) to form the Pak-Afghan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PACCI). The scope of PACCI's activities includes: exchange of information with regard to trade, economic cooperation and services between the two countries. They said both the countries could not fully exploit the potential of increasing their bilateral trade and economic cooperation following the continuing negative impact of the Afghan Transit Trade and the related smuggling on their economies in general and Pakistan's economy in particular. Keeping this in view, Afghanistan needs to alleviate Pakistan's concerns about smuggling via transit trade by improved customs administration. APP adds: The ECC set up a committee headed by Finance Minister and representatives of provinces of Punjab, NWFP, Sindh and Balochistan to overcome wheat shortage. The committee will also work out the disbursement of imported wheat of 2.5 million tonnes to ensure availability of atta at prices based on parity throughout the country. The ECC that met here at the Governor House was chaired by Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani. The meeting was also attended by Chief Minister and Governor Punjab. Chief Minister Punjab assured ECC that Punjab will reach out to meet the food requirement of fellow citizens in NWFP, Balochistan and Sindh. Governor State Bank apprised the meeting of the economic challenges facing the country and emphasised that the time has come to slash over-spending by both at private and public sector. The PM also constituted a committee consisting of Ministers for Law, Finance, Water and Power, Deputy Chairman Planning Commission and Chairman NEPRA to review the whole issue of KESC to improve its productivity and distribution for the benefits of the people in Karachi and surrounding areas. The ECC allowed the import of mineral oil free of custom duty and sales tax and further decided that FBR and MINFAL will work out the modalities to prevent the use of imported material. The secretary MINFAL pleaded the proposal in view of the fatal attack of white fly and Mealy Bug on the cotton crop. The ECC approved fixation of CNG consumer prices by OGRA and readjustment of gas tariff for captive power producers from 68 percent to 31 percent. The ECC approved the summary of Ministry of petroleum regarding the revised criteria of gas extension to new towns and villages falling within the vicinity of gas fields, like Punjab 13.5kms, Sindh 13.5kms, NWFP 27kms, and Balochistan 67kms. The ECC approved that the loans given to the Heavy Electrical Complex (HEC) be converted into equity of the government in the same organisation. The meeting was informed that the overall CPI-based inflation registered an increase in the month of June 2008, the phenomenon is not peculiar to Pakistan as many other developing countries around the world are facing similar prices in recent months. The prices of pulses with the exception of 'Masoor', remained stable. Monitoring Desk adds: The ECC also approved reduction in the gas tariff  for power housed of textile industry and decided to continue provision of subsidy on wheat flour, reported a private TV channel. Expressing concerns on the current price-hike, the Prime Minister issued directives to the Federal Minister for Finance and Governor State Bank in this regard. "Inflation be brought under control and rupee value be stabilised," he ordered. The meeting also reviewed ways to stabilise the prices of food items. It also set a target for curtailing loadshedding across the country including Karachi. It was decided to formulate a contingency plan to overcome the dearth of basic food items and its subsequent price-hike. In another move, the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) has been entrusted with the task to fix CNG prices in future and bring down the CNG prices to Rs44 per kilogram. While WAPDA has been advised to review its decision of imposing withholding tax on electricity bills.