ISLAMABAD: On top of a bumper crop output of 27.2 million tonnes, the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet on Wednesday gave a go-ahead to start the process for import of 3m tonnes of wheat to build strategic reserves. However, the committee stopped short of increasing wheat imports to 4m tonnes.
The meeting, presided over by Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin, continued to approve technical supplementary grants worth Rs56 billion even after the presentation of the federal budget to the parliament. The meeting also approved a revised policy for regulation of non-governmental and non-profit organisations (NGOs/NPOs) to receive foreign funds and allow supply of a total of 1m tonnes of wheat to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa from local crop and imported quantities on a 50:50 basis.
Informed sources said the Ministry of National Food Security and Research (MNFSR) had requested the ECC to enhance the permission for wheat import to 4m tonnes for strategic reserves in a bid to deter hoarding and black marketing. The federal cabinet had already ratified an earlier ECC decision for the import of 3m tonnes a couple of months ago but the process could not begin.
The meeting was informed, these sources said, that the Ministry of Commerce through the Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) was looking at the international market for imports in July-August deliveries based on lowest price windows, in line with the Chicago forward trading.
The MNFSR wanted to increase the approved quantities to 4m tonnes for follow up intervention without waiting for lengthy approval process, perhaps in September or so, in line with a recent decision of the National Price Monitoring Committee.
As such, the ECC directed that the commerce ministry and TCP should first line up imports of 3m tonnes. The committee further directed the ministry and TCP to come back to it after two-three weeks for an additional 1m tonnes of wheat.
“The ECC approved the request of the MNFSR for import of 3m tonnes of wheat subject to approval by PPRA Board for building up the strategic reverses of wheat in the country,” an official statement said.
The ECC also approved a request by the MNFSR for the provision of 500,000 tonnes of wheat to the KP government out of the Passco stocks during the crop year 2021-22 on the usual terms and conditions.
The ECC also approved in principle the “Policy for Regulation of NGOs/NPOs receiving Foreign Contributions-2021”. The new policy seeks to expand space for credible organisations for a playing an effective role in the socio-economic development while deterring NGOs with dubious credentials.
The ECC approved the summary of Ministry of Energy (Petroleum Division) for allowing operational losses up to a maximum of 0.5 per cent for petrol (gasoline) transportation through White Oil Pipeline and Mahmoodkot-Faisalabad-Machike (MFM) pipelines through the Inland Freight Equalisation Margin (IFEM).
The meeting was informed that despite this allowance, the movement through pipeline would be 55 paisa per litre cheaper than transportation through tankers but the discount would be adjusted in the IFEM. The 0.5pc loss “will be adjusted against actual based on physical inventory of pipelines to be undertaken periodically”. The actual rate will be determined by Ogra based on actual losses and excess margin would be brought before the ECC.
The ECC also approved $17.3m for the Pakistan International Airlines-Investments Limited (PIA-IL) for payment of recurring as well as one-off liabilities of Roosevelt Hotel New York, USA, as verified by the auditor and recommended by PIA-IL Board.
The ECC also approved a total of 10 technical supplementary grants including Rs49bn for Karachi Coastal Power Project Unit 1 & 2 (K-1 & K-2) as requested by the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission. Other grants included Rs2.467bn for Revenue Division, Rs1.632bn for the Ministry of Industries and Production gas bill to SNGPL and other expenditures, Rs1.37bn for the Finance Division against wheat subsidy to Gilgit-Baltistan.
Grants also included Rs274.161m for the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to meet financial short fall of PTV Multan, Azad Jammu & Kashmir, English News Channel and the Associated Press of Pakistan, RsRs570m for the Ministry of Interior for Security enhancement at the Pakistan-Afghanistan Border, Rs56.341m for the Ministry of Maritime Affairs, Rs145m for Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority to meet its employee related expenses and Rs834m for Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission.
Published in Dawn, June 17th, 2021