ISLAMABAD: The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet on Tuesday approved Rs1.6 billion Ramazan subsidy and export of 600,000 tonnes of urea, besides imposing taxes on cotton imports.
Presided over by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, a meeting of the ECC scaled down the amount of subsidy allocated in the budget for Ramazan relief by about Rs400m. The subsidy was already cut to Rs2bn in the 2016-17 budget from Rs3bn spent last year on provision of cheaper essential items to the poor.
The ECC decided to restrict the Ramazan Relief Package-2017 at Rs1.602bn to provide subsidies on 19 commodities, aimed at providing relief to people during the month of fasting.
The Ramazan Package was proposed by the Ministry of Industries and Production. The commodities to be provided to people on subsidised rates include flour, sugar, ghee, oil, pulses (channa, masoor, moong and mash), white grams, baisen, dates, rice, squashes, tea, milk and spices.
The commodities will be sold at subsidised rates across the country through outlets of the Utility Stores Corporation (USC). In addition to the relief provided by the Ramazan Package, USC will also reduce prices of over 2,400 other items from five per cent to 10pc by obtaining special discount from vendors/suppliers and reducing its own profit margins.
Export of 0.6m tonnes of urea also approved; tax imposed on cotton export
An official said the reduced rates would become effective a week before the beginning of Ramazan.
The ECC meeting also decided to increase the quantity of urea approved for exports from the existing 300,000 tonnes to 600,000 tones. The ECC is also reported to have extended the deadline for urea export from April 28 to Oct 31.
These decisions were made by the ECC after considering the proposal of the commerce ministry, based on the recommendations of the Fertiliser Review Committee. The ECC was told that sufficient production and inventory of urea for domestic consumption was anticipated during Kharif-2017.
On a proposal from the finance division, the ECC approved restoration of import duty and sales tax on cotton import with effect from July 15.
Published in Dawn, May 17th, 2017