The Cabinet’s Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) has given the go-ahead to the private sector to import wheat into the market to control wheat and flour prices, and to ensure the availability of wheat and wheat meal at a reasonable price throughout the year.
The meeting was chaired by the adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh. The EEC meeting decided not to restrict the import of wheat to any limits by the private sector, and further decided to monitor the situation every month to ensure the availability of wheat and wheat meal at a reasonable price in all parts of the country.
The ECC decided that the provincial governments should be requested to announce their “Wheat Release Policy” immediately that Punjab should release 900,000 tons of wheat into the province’s flour mills over the next two months at a release price as proposed by the Punjab government to prevent the wheat/flour price surge as proposed by Punjab.
Sindh Government is asked to announce its strategy, PASSCO to assess Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Baluchistan’s immediate requirement and arrange to boost the supply of wheat as decided, and facilitate the movement of wheat between Punjab and the KP / Baluchistan.
The ECC also decided that the free movement of wheat across the border should be ensured and that movement across districts and provinces should be ensured; that private wheat importer can be facilitated and arrangements should be arranged between importers and KP / Baluchistan and the impact of the import subsidy should be calculated if any.
Private-sector imports of wheat should be approved and the situation tracked every month; the financial consequences of private-sector imports / non-imports should also be evaluated and, where no private-sector imports exist, the government should import wheat itself.
The ECC also considered and accepted five proposals for technical supplementary grants (TSGs) from the Interior Division, including one Rs2.5 billion TSG to clear accumulated confirmed liabilities of the Punjab Mass-transit Authority (PMA) as a federal share for the service of the Pakistan Metro-bus system.
Two separate Rs200 million and Rs36,400 million TSGs for the ICT Police to clear outstanding Shuhada family obligations, and two separate Rs105,621 million and Rs60,581 million TSGs for the ICT Police to clear outstanding CFY 2019-2020 commitments.
The ECC also accepted Rs1.300 million plan from the Finance Division for TSG to meet essential demands related to the Pakistan Navy’s medical stores and utilities.
On another proposal from the Defense Division, the ECC allowed the CDA to collect charges against the allocation of 45 acres of land in Jagiot Farm Islamabad to the ISI Directorate-General at a rate of Rs2,250 per square yard with the total involvement of Rs490.05 million as approved by the Prime Minister in May 2018 already.
On a proposal from the Industries and Production Division, the ECC accepted a package incorporating reduced duties and taxes over three months to ensure the country’s uninterrupted supply of oxygen gas and oxygen cylinders for medical usage.
The ECC instructed the ministries and departments concerned to ensure the availability of oxygen for medical purposes by constantly communicating with the oxygen plants and hospitals to keep the oxygen charges to a minimum.
The ECC also considered and accepted a proposal by the Finance Division for a new lending policy for the provincial governments for their “direction and means requirements” and the Finance Division and the State Bank of Pakistan to sign agreements to enforce the new lending policy.
Punjab’s existing ways and means limit has been shifted from Rs37 billion to Rs77 billion, from Rs15 billion to Rs39 billion for Sindh, from Rs10.1 billion to Rs27 billion for the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, and Rs7.1 billion to Rs17 billion for Baluchistan.