ADVISER to the PM on Finance Dr Hafeez Shaikh chairs a meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee of the cabinet on Wednesday.—PPI
ADVISER to the PM on Finance Dr Hafeez Shaikh chairs a meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee of the cabinet on Wednesday.—PPI

ISLAMABAD: The federal government on Wednesday decided to impose a ban on export of wheat and wheat flour amid rising concern over the price hike trend of roti and other wheat products in the wake of low wheat production in the country.

The cabinet’s Economic Coordina­tion Committee (ECC), headed by Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr Hafeez Shaikh, took the decision at a meeting.

During the Rabi season 2018-19, the ministry of national food security and research recorded 24.12 million tonnes of wheat production against the projected target of 25.5m tonnes for the year. The procured quantity of wheat during this year was also 33pc less than the procured quantities of wheat during the last year’s corresponding period.

To control the price of roti and other wheat products in the local market, the ECC suggested that a meeting of National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) be convened with the cooperation of provincial governments.

Centre wants National Price Monitoring Committee to suggest measures to control raging trend

The meeting was briefed that adequate stocks of wheat were available in the country. As per official statistics, the country has 28m tonne wheat in stock against the total requirement of 25.84m tonnes of wheat.

The ECC allowed National Fertiliser Marketing Limited (NFML) dealers to fix the dealer-transfer price of 50kg imported urea bag at Rs1,800 that is Rs166 less than the prevailing average market price of Sona Urea.

The difference in urea import price and approved dealer-transfer price for NFML dealers has been estimated at Rs937.92 million. The NFML has also been directed to ensure enforcement of this price through coordination with provincial governments.

The ECC allowed PIA Corporation Limited to make a re-appropriation in its already approved budget of Rs24 billion to upgrade in-flight entertainment (IFE) system of its fleet for eight Boeing-777 aircraft. The project will cost Rs700 million. The measures will improve the occupancy of the airline to 80 per cent from the current level of 70pc.

Scrap slag, ash import

The ECC also permitted import of scrap slag, ash and residues containing metals, arsenic or their compounds (containing mainly aluminium) after fulfilment of certain conditions. As per approved conditions, it can only be imported by industrial consumers having recycling facilities, subject to an NOC from the Ministry of Climate Change and duly certified by the provincial Environmental Protection Agency etc.

The ECC approved the notification of Minimum Indicative Prices (MIP) of tobacco for the year 2019-20. As per the MIP for different grades of various types of tobacco are Rs190.63 for FCV Tobacco (plain) per kilogram for 2019-20; Rs218.77 for FCV Tobacco (sub-mountainous); Rs82.85 for WP Tobacco; Rs150.54 for Burley Tobacco and Rs94.76 for DAC Tobacco, respectively.

The report on the national poverty graduation programme of 82.60 million dollars was also submitted for ECC compliance by the secretary of economic affairs division.

The ECC allowed that new PCT codes, as created in the Pakistan Customs Tariff through the Finance Act, 2019, may be incorporated in SRO 693(I)/2006 allowing collection of additional customs duty on parts of sport utility vehicles.

The ECC endorsed the decision of the Governing Council of Pakistan Bureau of Statistics to change the base of price statistics from 2007-08 to 2015-16. The new base 2015-16 of price statistics has the features mainly inclusion of rural market; introduction of population weight based on the 2017 population censes; computation of indices based on weighted geometric mean; introduction of consumption quintiles instead of income quintiles; introduction of consumer-weighted approach to compute gas prices for combined income group; introduction of GST, other taxes fuel price adjustment to compute electricity tariffs using consumer-weighted approach.

However, it was decided that for the purpose of comparative analysis, the old series of 2007-08 would continue to be published for another year along with the new series of 2015-16.

Minister for National Food Security and Research Sahibzada Mohammad Mehboob Sultan, Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar, Minister for Privatisation Mohammedmian Soomro, Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, Adviser to PM on Commerce, Textile, Industry and Investment Abdul Razak Dawood, Adviser on Institutional Reforms and Austerity Dr Ishrat Hussain, Special Assistant to PM on Petroleum Nadeem Babar, State Bank Governor Reza Baqir, chairman of the Board of Investment Zubair Gilani and others attended the meeting.

Published in Dawn, July 18th, 2019