The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet has asked the Ministry of National Food Security and Research to closely monitor the wheat procurement process and actively engage with the food department and PASSCO to meet the 8.25 million ton target set for procurement by the public sector this year.
The ECC meeting chaired by Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh asked the Ministry of National Food Security and Research to submit a detailed report in the next two to three weeks on the progress of wheat procurement by PASSCO and provincial food departments and the overall wheat production in the country with the help of reliable data and figures to have a clearer picture for better planning.
ECC also called for exploring possibilities for extending more time to flour mills to procure wheat from the market, allowing inter-provincial movement and preventing the smuggling of wheat outside Pakistan. The committee gave the instruction after a report was presented to it by the Ministry of National Food Security and Research on wheat procurement by the public sector in the current season.
The Ministry, in its report, told ECC that the wheat procurement target for the wheat crop 2019-20 was set to 8.25 million tons with 4.5 million tons to be procured by Punjab, 1.4 million tons by Sindh, 0.4 million tons by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 0.1 million tons by Balochistan and 1.8 million tons by PASSCO.
So far PASSCO and the provincial food departments had procured 3.96 million tons of wheat, approximately 48 % of the target while the procurement pace was slow in KP and Balochistan and both the provinces had been requested to speed up the procurement process.
The economic committee also took up another proposal by the Ministry of National Food Security and Research for fixing an intervention price for cotton and after a detailed discussion asked the Ministry to come up with a comprehensive package focusing on cottonseed research, overall research, and development, better water management, deregulation of the sector and zoning of crop growing areas to enhance productivity and competitiveness of the local crop.
ECC discussed and approved five separate supplementary grants on different proposals submitted by various divisions. On two separate proposals for technical supplementary grants by the Defence Division, Rs. 1.665 billion grant was approved for up-gradation of the Special Telecom Monitoring Project at Directorate ISI and Rs. 500 million for construction of Special Education School at the Defence Complex Islamabad.
On a proposal by the Prime Minister’s Inspection Commission, a technical supplementary grant of Rs. 10.476 million was approved for assistance package for the family of Mr. Raees Anwar Abbasi, Senior Private Secretary (BS-19), Prime Minister’s Inspection Commission following his death on 12th August 2019.
On a proposal for a technical supplementary grant by the Poverty Alleviation & Social Safety Division, an amount of Rs. 12.143 million was approved following the transfer of the subject of “Collection of Zakat and Ushr, disbursement of Zakat and Ushr to the Provinces and other areas as per formula approved by the Council of Common Interest” from Religious Affairs & Interfaith Harmony to the PA&SS Division and subsequent transfer of officers along with their posts and budgets by the Ministry of Religious Affairs & Interfaith Harmony to the PA&SS Division.
On another proposal for a technical supplementary grant by the Finance Division, ECC approved Rs. 306.615 million for the Office of Controller General of Accounts during FY 2019-20 for payment of dues on account of Prime Minister’s Assistance Package.
For a proposal by the Ministry of Interior, ECC allowed Capital Development Authority (CDA) Islamabad to allocate Rs. 3.05 billion to the Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad (MCI) on a loan basis for payment of obligatory expenses for the second half of the FY 2019-20.
ECC also considered and approved a proposal for reconstitution of a committee formed by ECC in its meeting on 26th March 2020 for the examination of the incentive package for the National Electric Vehicle Policy by nominating the Minister for Industries and Production Mr. Hammad Azhar in place of Mr. Abdul Razak Dawood as Chairman and member of the committee following the cabinet reshuffle and including Secretary Commerce as member of the committee in place of Mr. Abdul Razak Dawood.
The committee also considered and approved a proposal by the Ministry of Maritime Affairs for an extension due to the coronavirus pandemic of the free period from five working days to 15 working days for cargo and containers landing for a period up to May 31, 2020.
ECC approved another proposal by the Ministry of Maritime Affairs for a technical supplementary grant of Rs. 58 million as compensation of the demolished structures of Pakistan Coast Guards in order to provide 19 acres of land previously in possession of Pakistan Coast Guards and vacated for Gwadar Free Zone and Right of Way of the East bay Expressway.
On a proposal by the Ministry of Energy for the development of a new mechanism/criterion for disbursement of payments to the tune of Rs. 300 billion through CPPA-G to the power generators, ECC asked the Power Division to devise the requisite criterion for fair and equitable disbursement of payments to the power generators and come back to ECC for its approval.
On another proposal by the Power Division, the ECC approved shifting of most expensive loans from the books of PHL to the Government of Pakistan and taking up Rs. 136.454 billion loans in FY 2019-20 while other loans to be considered in the following financial years accordingly.
ECC also gave a go-ahead to the issuance of a new sovereign guarantee by the Ministry of Finance in respect of fresh syndicated term finance facility for Rs. 41 billion through Power holding Limited (PHL) for the purpose of set-off/adjustment of existing PHL finance facility of Rs. 41 billion executed in pursuance of ECC decision made on 7th June 2017.
ECC, on a proposal by the Petroleum Division, asked the Finance Division to transfer Rs. 11.7 billion in the NBP account for ensuring remittances to Kuwait as per schedule.
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