ISLAMABAD-The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet has approved release of Rs75 billion from PM’s Relief Package of Rs200 billion for targeted payments to the low-income groups, especially labourers and daily wagers most severely affected by the lockdown situation in the country.

The ECC meeting, chaired by Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, has approved a mechanism for disbursement of payment among daily wage earners. Under the decision, disbursement of Rs 12,000/- per selected person would be made using the Ehsaas disbursement mechanisms under a programme called “Mazdoor Ka Ehsaas Programme”. For this purpose, a fourth category in addition to already existing three categories in “Ehsaas Kifalat”, would be created and standard filters/checks of Ehsaas Program would be applied for identification of the beneficiaries.

Earlier, the ECC was told that after the usual filters and checks, up to 6 million low-income people were expected to benefit under the planned 4th category in addition to the 12 million labour population already targeted through category 1-3 of Kifalat. “Mazdoor Ka Ehsaas Programme” was aimed at extending much-needed support in the current situation to the low-income labour/daily wagers mostly involved in activities such as loaders, cleaning staff, contract employees, piece rate workers, self-employed street vendors, construction workers, painters, welders, mechanics, carenters, domestic help, drivers, etc.

The ECC also asked the Ministry of Industries and Production and the Poverty Alleviation and Social Sector Development Division (PASSD) to jointly work out comprehensive mechanism and modalities to ensure a transparent and efficient disbursement of the support to the deserving people.

During the meeting, the ECC, on two separate proposals, approved a technical supplementary grant of Rs 606 million for 19 projects to be implemented by the Government of Balochistan for FY 2019-20 and another technical supplementary grant amounting to Rs 7 million for purchase of spare parts for helicopter maintenance by Frontier Corps Balochistan (North).

The ECC also approved release as government loan of Rs 1.30 billion in the current financial year and Rs 3.85 billion per annum during the next three years for settlement of the outstanding liabilities of litigants in the case involving Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM).

On a proposal by the Ministry of Commerce, the ECC approved notification of the Export Policy Order, 2020 and Import Policy Order, 2020 in consolidated form as per the Law Division’s recommendations for the convenience of the business community.

The ECC also approved a proposal by the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and HRD for approval of the budget proposal for the year 2019-20 & revised budget estimate for 2018-19 of EOBI.

The ECC, on a proposal by the Ministry of Climate Change, approved exemption from the Re-lending Policy of the Government in respect of a USD 188 million World Bank IDA for the Pakistan Hydromet and Ecosystem Restoration Services Project.

The ECC also accorded principled approval to a proposal by the Ministry of National Health Services for provision of Rs 150 million funds as grant in aid/seed money for Islamabad Healthcare Regulatory Authority. The ECC asked the Secretary Finance and Secretary Health to jointly to work out modalities for the arrangement of funds.

On a proposal by the Ministry of Industries and Production seeking a supplementary grant of Rs 288 million for payment of salaries to the employees of Pakistan Machine Tool Factory, the ECC asked the Finance Division and the Industries and Production Division to sit together and resolve the issue.

The ECC also considered a proposal by the Ministry of Maritime Affairs regarding arrest of PNSC ships in South Africa on account of alleged claims of M/s Coniston against Pakistan Steel Mills Ltd and asked the Finance Secretary to engage with the PNSC and PSM and seek opinion of the Law Division, if necessary, to resolve the issue having ended up in litigation.