ECC approves partial price rationalization of essential commodities

ISLAMABAD: The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet Friday approved partial rationalization of prices of essential commodities through Utility Stores Corporation (USC) for provision of maximum relief to the consumers.

Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, chaired the ECC meeting, while among others it was attended by Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research Syed Fakhar Imam, Federal Minister for Industries and Production Hammad Azhar, Adviser to the PM on Institutional Reforms and Austerity Dr. Ishrat Hussain, SAPM on Revenue Dr. Waqar Masood, SAPM on Power Tabish Gauhar, SAPM on Petroleum Nadeem Babar and Chairman Board of Investment (BOI) Atif Bokhari.

According to press statement issued by the Finance Ministry, the Ministry of Industries and Production had presented a summary before ECC regarding revision of subsidized prices of essential commodities by USC, in accordance with the earlier directive of ECC dated January 28, 2021.

Secretary, Ministry of Industries and Production presented various proposals to rationalize prices of wheat flour, sugar and ghee in view of continuous fluctuations in international commodity prices.

“After detailed discussion, the ECC approved only partial rationalization and directed to provide maximum relief to the consumers despite significant price differential between subsidized price offered by the USCs and the prevailing prices in the domestic markets, ” the statement added.

This is in compliance with the Prime Minister’s Relief Package-2020 to provide basic commodities at affordable rates through a network of utility stores across Pakistan.

ECC also approved another summary by the Ministry of Industries and Production for outstanding payment to M/s Ocean Wide Shipping Services, amounting to USD 0.58 million from Pakistan Steel Mills to fulfill a contractual obligation for transportation of coal during the year 2010.

Meanwhile, Secretary, Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication presented a summary regarding taxation issues of the Telecom Sector.

The ECC had earlier constituted a sub-committee dated October 20, 2020, under the Chairmanship of the Adviser to the PM Dr. Ishrat Hussain, for due deliberation. The sub-committee presented its recommendations before ECC which were approved as endorsed by FBR.

On a summary by Ministry of Energy (Petroleum Division) regarding tax on payments to the offshore supply contractor to meet the contractual obligation, ECC established a sub-committee comprising SAPM on Petroleum, Secretary Law Division, Secretary Power Division and FBR with a direction to evaluate the proposal and present workable recommendations before the forum for consideration.

The Ministry of Energy presented another summary about revocation of Neelum Jhelum (NJ) surcharge @ Rs.0.10 per KWH electricity consumers, which was approved by ECC with immediate effect.

ECC also approved a summary presented by Secretary, Ministry of National Food Security and Research regarding a mechanism for disbursement of subsidies in line with the Prime Minister’s Fiscal Package for Agriculture in the backdrop of COVID-19 pandemic.

The summary was approved for timely disbursements of subsidies to the provinces by the Ministry of NFS&R subject to clearance by the Finance Division.

The ECC also approved a summary regarding government’s sovereign guarantee for a Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) project titled National Electronics Complex of Pakistan (NECOP), executed by National Engineering and Scientific Commission.

The committee also approved various Technical Supplementary Grants (TSG) including Rs. 550 million for Special Communications Organization (SCO) from Ministry of Information and Technology during the FY 2020-21; Rs. 200 million were approved (out of total allocation of RS. 362.239 million) for Special Technology Zones (STZA) during the current financial year whereas Rs109 million were approved for Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MOIB) to clear outstanding Bills related to media campaigns on behalf of Ehsaas Program during FY 2019-20.