ISLAMABAD                -             The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet on Monday has approved release of Rs.350 million for Pakistan Steel Mills for partial settlement of the Sui-Southern Gas Company (SSGC) liabilities.

The ECC, which was chaired by Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, has considered six points’ agenda. On the summary moved by the Ministry of Industries and Production for the payment of outstanding liabilities of Pakistan Steel Mills against Sui-Southern Gas Company for the non- payment of Gas bills, the ECC approved the release of Rs350 million for the partial settlement of the SSGC liability.

The Ministry of Industries and Production had sought Rs3 billion for the payment of SSGC dues by PSM on account of gas bills. The amount is due on account of gas SSGC is providing to the closed mill to keep its connection on. The monthly cost of gas provision to the closed mill is Rs82 million. However, the ECC has provided only Rs350 million to the PSM as against its demand of Rs3 billion. Officials informed that the government has decided that PSM will pay Rs350 million to avert total disconnection and if this does not happen another way out of this issue will be found. The SSGC’s total receivables against PSM stood at Rs62 billion of which around Rs22 billion is the principle whereas Rs40 billion is interest on late payment.

The PSM is dysfunctional since June 2015 due to many reasons. The total losses and liabilities of the PSM have gone to around Rs500 billion. The incumbent government has failed to revive the PSM in last one and half year. Similarly, the previous Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government had failed to revive the PSM despite injection billions of rupees under bailout package. However, the Mill was closed down in July 2015.

ECC considered and approved waiving off all port dues/ charges amounting to Rs194,951,059 on 31-1-2020 or till the vessels leave the port accruing against Karkey. The said waiver was required as a consequence of the settlement agreement reached between the Government of Pakistan and Karkey.

Establishment of Trust Fund to implement risk sharing facility under 3rd Tranche of $10 million of credit line of $140 million obtained from World Bank for Pakistan Mortgage Refinance Company Limited (PMRCL) was also approved. The purpose of the Trust will be to leverage the Trust Funds by issuing guarantees in favor of the mortgagors to cover possible losses from eligible mortgage loans.

Finance Division also sought approval for the demand of Rs80 million as Technical supplementary grant in the budget of the Finance Division for the Financial Year 2019-20 for providing assistance for families of the government employees who expired during service and provision of Adhoc relief allowance 2019. ECC also approved the proposal sent by the Ministry of Finance for the issuance of direction of the Federal Government to the State Bank of Pakistan under sub-section 6(A) of the section 17 of the SBP Act 1956 to sell its shares in House Building Finance Company Limited (HBFCL).

ECC approved Technical Supplementary Grant amounting to Rs100 million to National Information Technology Board (NITB) under the Ministry of IT & Telecommunication for centralised procurement of ICT infrastructure to ensure e-readiness of Federal Government for the implementation of the E-governance program.