ISLAMABAD: The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet on Wednesday could not take decisions on continuation of subsidised power rates to industrial sector or ban on export of wheat in order to stop the increase in the price of the commodity.
The meeting, presided over by PM’s Adviser on Finance and Revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, agreed in principle on tax exemptions for procurement of additional ships in the country or limiting oil imports only through domestic ships, but concluded that a decision in this regard should be taken by the federal cabinet.
Informed sources said that ministers were divided when the Ministry of National Food Security & Research proposed a ban on export of wheat to stop rise in the price of the commodity in local markets.
Railways Minister Shaikh Rasheed Ahmed opposed the ban and said that such a decision would send a message of shortage and weakness to the market and thus encourage hoarding of the commodity.
Minister for Planning Makhdum Khusro Bakhtyar and minister for food security, on the other hand, were of the view that although sufficient wheat stocks were currently available, the government should take pro-active approach by banning the export.
They were of the view that message to the market should be very clear that export of wheat would not be allowed to keep the price of the commodity in the country.
The participants were also unclear about wheat requirements in Afghanistan as it was reported that Kabul had also started importing wheat from Kazakhstan. The secretary of food security told the meeting that 28 million tonnes of wheat stock was available against the total national requirement of 25.84 million tonnes.
“The committee deliberated upon the proposal of the ministry to impose a ban on export of wheat and referred the matter to the Constituted Committee of the ECC to make its recommendations in this regard,” a statement said.
The ECC could also not decide whether or not to continue industrial support package of Rs3 per unit cheaper electricity in future to industrial units owing to an annual burden of about Rs80bn.
Published in Dawn, June 20th, 2019