ECC meeting to clear Rs200bn for daily wage earners

Updated 22 Apr 2020

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Nine-item agenda includes technical supplementary grants to various agencies. — AFP/File
Nine-item agenda includes technical supplementary grants to various agencies. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: The government has called a meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the cabinet on Wednesday (today) to approve a mechanism for disbursement of Rs200 billion among daily wage earners.

The meeting, to be presided over by Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, is expected to take up a total of nine agenda items, including technical supplementary grants to various agencies.

Finance Secretary Naveed Kamran Baloch told a parliamentary committee on Tuesday that the government had allocated Rs200bn for providing financial assistance to daily-wage earners/employees as part of the PM’s Rs1.24 trillion relief and economic stimulus package. But disbursements could not be made for want of a foolproof selection and disbursement mechanism.

He said the financial assistance to daily wagers and employees of various businesses “would be released after proper identification and screening through filters by Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP)”.

Nine-item agenda includes technical supplementary grants to various agencies

An official told Dawn that consultations had also been made with the provincial governments, their labour departments, workers welfare institutions, the Employees Old-Age Benefits Institution (EOBI) and various businesses through chambers of commerce and industry.

The official said the ECC would also consider a proposal by the climate change ministry for exemption from the government’s re-lending policy of the Pakistan Hydro-Met & Ecosystem Restoration Services Project because of its non-profitable objectives. The policy entails expensive interest rates effectively going beyond 14 per cent.

The ECC will also discuss the implications and way forward in the wake of Sindh High Court’s orders regarding payment of dues by the government to about 850 employees of the Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM). The meeting will take up another matter raised by the maritime affairs ministry about arrest of Pakistan National Shipping Corporation’s ships in South Africa on account of alleged claims by a firm, Coniston, against the PSM.

Officials said a presentation by the Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) was also on the ECC agenda. The federal cabinet has already ordered dissolution of the incumbent CCP for its alleged links with businesses involved in anti-competitive market practices.

The ECC will approve two technical supplementary grants of Rs613 million for maintenance of a helicopter of the Frontier Corps and a few development schemes in Balochistan. It will approve Rs150m seed money for the Islamabad Healthcare Regulatory Authority and the revised budgets of the EOBI for fiscal years 2028-19 and 2019-20.

The finance secretary updated the National Assembly’s Standing Com­mittee on Finance on the Rs1.2tr package announced by the prime minister. He said assistance had already been disbursed among 4.4m families out of Rs150bn apportioned for the poor.

Published in Dawn, April 22nd, 2020