ISLAMABAD - The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) has given approval for resumption of POL supplies at six Non-Internal Freight Equalization Mechanism (IFEM) oil depots, which were earlier closed due to alleged dumping of petroleum products.

The ECC, which met under the chairmanship of Finance Minister Senator Ishaq Dar, approved the summary of the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources for resumption of POL supplies at six IFEM oil depots subject to following: government will not take any financial impact and OGRA will put in place an appropriate mechanism to ensure the prevention of dumping and misuse of IFEM.

The location of oil depots where POL supplies will be resumed include Daulatpur, Khuzdar, Sangi, Habibabad, Kundian and Serai Naurang. It may be mentioned that due to reduced availability of gas to CNG stations and use of MOGAS in generators, the demand of POL products has increased up to 21% during the last two years necessitating for the opening of abundant depots to overcome the shortage. By opening of the above depots, 26000MT storage capacity will be available in the system. OGRA will monitor the movement of products as per their rules/policies.

Sources said that price of diesel and petrol would be higher 6 and 10 paisas respectively in six new oil depots as compared to older depots.

Sources said that ECC did not approve the summary of Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources of LNG services Agreement (LSA) between ETPL and Sui Southern Gas Company Limited (SSGCL) to ensure the import of 200-400 million cubic feet of LNG under fast track LNG project by November this year. Sources informed that ECC has sought the viewpoint of the Ministry of Law over the aforesaid summary.

The top economic decision making body of the country has also extended temporary suspension on import of gold under SRO 760 till 20th March, 2014. The finance minister directed Secretary, Ministry of Commerce, FBR and SBP to hold a meeting with all the stakeholders and bring proposals and recommendations to ensure export of gold jewelry to the extent of the gold imported for value addition.

Finance Secretary Dr Waqar Masood Khan presented a review of the key economic indicators. The ECC was informed that there is positive trend in the key economic indicators. The large scale manufacturing sector has witnessed a growth of 6.8% as compared to 2.3% of corresponding period of the last fiscal year. Fertilizer sector has shown a growth of 28.5%, food beverages 18%, paper and board 17%, electronics 12% and leather products 9.61%.

The ECC was informed that year-on-year inflation rate based on Consumer Price Index (CPI), Whole Price Index (WPI) and Sensitive Price Index (SPI) for the month of January 2014 remained at 7.9%, 8.1% and 7.7% respectively. ECC was informed that the reported stock of wheat as on February 2014 is 2.7 million tons, showing sufficient quantity of local wheat is available for daily releases to mills. The total reported stock of sugar stood at 2.3 million tons and the stock of various POL products was sufficient for average 20 days supply on February 24, 2014.

ECC was further informed that workers’ remittances have reached $9,033 million in July 2013-January 2014 against $8,206 million during corresponding period in 2012-13, showing an increase of 10.1%.

The ECC was also informed that during July-January 2013-14, FBR tax collection stood at Rs.1,197 billion as compared to Rs.1,022 billion in the same period last year, thereby posting an increase of 17.2%. During this period, inflow of Foreign Direct Investment stood at $1,116 million.

ECC was informed that on 24th February 2014 foreign exchange reserves stood at $8.6 billion. Finance minister observed that the foreign exchange reserves are stable and improving gradually, which is a healthy sign for the economy. He said that we would be able to achieve a target of foreign exchange reserves in double figures by the end of March this year. He said that in his last meeting with IMF, they also observed that GDP growth rate is getting better even more than their expected target. He said that with the significant increase in FBR collection, he expects that the provinces would get Rs.219 billion more than the last year. He hoped that the provinces would be able to invest more in agriculture sector. He also directed the Secretary, Ministry of Food Security to expedite National Agriculture Policy so that Pakistan could be able to utilize huge potential in this sector.