ISLAMABAD - The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet has approved much needed salary package worth of Rs 960 million for the employees of financially troubled Pakistan Steel Mills, as they failed to receive their due right from more than three and half months.

The ECC, which was chaired by Finance Minister Senator Ishaq Dar has discussed the Pakistan Steel Mills issue. The top economic decisions making body of the country has approved the summary of Ministry of Industries and Production for payment of the salaries for the months of December 2013 and January 2014 to the Pakistan Steel Mills employees. ECC was also informed that the impact on public exchequer for payment of two months salaries would be Rs.960 million. Finance Minister has also directed Privatisation Commission to bring proposal for restructuring Pakistan Steel Mills in the next ECC meeting.

Over 15,000 workers of the financially troubled Pakistan Steel Mills did not get their salaries from last three and half months (from December 2013 till date). However, the ECC has approved salaries for two months only. It is worth mentioning here that PSM is in hot water, as the public sector entity did not have the funds to pay salaries to its employees.

This is second bailout package from the government for the salaries of PSM since September 2013. The ECC in September 2013 had decided to approve a 3-month bailout package of Rs 2.9 billion for Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) of which Rs 1.5 billion would be released in September, Rs 700 million in October and Rs 700 million in November 2013.

Meanwhile, the ECC also approved the proposal of the Revenue Division for dismantling of unserviceable confiscated tempered vehicles. The body parts of these vehicles will be put up for auction. ECC also agreed to the proposal that all confiscated tempered vehicles of the make before 1990 shall be deemed to be fit for dismantling. Whereas, vehicles with later vintage will be dismantled after conclusion of the Committee headed by Additional Collector Custom that the vehicle is unserviceable. The dismantling of the unserviceable tampered vehicles will be made under supervision of the Committee in a transparent manner and chassis number will be made unusable. The ECC also agreed that no NOC for transfer of scrapped vehicles will be issued to anybody including Excise and Taxation or Motor Registration Authorities.

The ECC considered and approved the summary of Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources for reimbursement of crude transportation cost on High Speed Diesel (HSD) to PARCO from Inland Freight Equalisation Margin (IFEM) with the direction that OGRA will take into account this factor with effect from April 1, 2014. It may be mentioned that ECC in its earlier meeting held on 15th October, 2010 approved deregulation of fixation of prices of all petroleum products excluding HSD. The ECC in its meeting held on 4.9.2012 deregulated the fixation of ex-refinery price of HSD. However, Crude transportation cost to PARCO is being reimbursed for all POL products excluding HSD from IFEM. In order to remove that anomaly, ECC approved uniform application of the principle applicable for other deregulated POL products.

The ECC constituted a five-member Committee headed by Finance Secretary and includes Secretaries of the Ministries of Food Security, Industries and Production, Water & Power and Petroleum & Natural Resources to determine the factors which are hindering production of fertilizers up to the full capacity of the local industry. The Committee will present its report in the next ECC meeting that whether the government should undertake import of fertilizer or the demand could be met from local industries for Kharif Season (April-September 2014).  The ECC was informed that keeping in view the demand and local production there is a need to import 0.1705 million tons of fertilizer by TCP. In addition to above Planning Commission had recommended that 0.2 million tons of urea fertilizer may be required for maintaining strategic reserves.

The meeting was attended by Zahid Hamid, Minister for Science and Technology, Engr. Khurram Dastagir Khan, Minister for Commerce, Sikandar Hayat Bosan, Minister for National Food Security, Ghulam Murtaza Khan Jatoi, Minister for Industries and Production, Abbas Khan Afridi, Minister for Textile Industry, Muhammad Zubair, Chairman Privatisation Commission, Federal Secretaries and senior officials.