ISLAMABAD Federal Minister for Water and Power Raja Pervaiz Ashraf on Tuesday said that water situation will improve by the end of April, which would enable the power generation system to produce more electricity and loadshedding during would be reduced accordingly. He said this while giving a detailed presentation to the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet here. The ECC met under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani. The Minister said that due to the downing of water level in rivers, the loadshedding hours were increased in March, however, the situation will improve in April. He proposed additional allocation of gas to generate additional electricity to overcome the power shortage. The Prime Minister directed the Ministers for Petroleum and Natural Resources and Water and Power to work on crash programme basis to address the issue of power generation and mitigate the problems of the people. The ECC approved subsidising 100,000 tons of wheat to be provided to Utility Stores Corporation at ex-PASSCO stocks in order to ensure regular availability of wheat flour at the USC outlets serving the poor sections of the society. The meeting observed that there would be no food shortage in the country this year as there is an abundant stock of wheat and sugar available in the country prior to the new crops. The meeting noted during July-February period, CPI-based inflation stood at 11.1 per cent as against 23.5 per cent in the same period last year. Meanwhile, it was informed that Quantum the Index of Large-Scale Manufacturing has registered a positive growth of 2.3 per cent during July-January period against same period of last fiscal year. The trade deficit improved by recorded at $9.4 billion in July-February 2009-10 as compared to the same period of last year, showing an increase of 17.7 percent over the same period last year. It was informed in the meeting that gross foreign exchange reserves stood at $14.9 billion as on March 25, 2010 while FBR tax collection stood at Rs 787.6 billion on net basis during July-February 2009-10 as compared to Rs 708 billion in the same period last year, thereby posting an increase of 11.2 percent. The Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) stood at $1319.3 million during July-February as against $2,794.7 million in the comparable period of last year thereby showing a negative growth of 52.8 percent. The ECC approved a number of measures to regulate milk prices in the country. The measures include strengthening of District Market Committees, which will work out actual cost of milk/meat production and determine appropriate sale price of fresh milk/meat after every six months. It was also decided that a Monitoring Cell would be established in Provincial Livestock Departments to monitor the functions of District Market Committees. The ECC considered the Mashal LNG Project in the light of Quantitative Risk Assessments Study and approved issuance of Stand By Letter of Credit (SBLC) for $300 million instead of the Sovereign Guarantee earlier approved by the ECC. While considering USCs request to purchase sugar through banks and keep its cash liquidity intact, the ECC decided that as a One Window Operation, only TCP would purchase sugar for supply to the USC. Advisor on Finance Abdul Hafeez Sheikh also attended the meeting and the Prime Minister said that in future he (advisor) would chair the ECC meetings.