ECC okays Rs44bn financial aid for PIA

Published September 16, 2021
Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin chairs a meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee on Wednesday. — Photo courtesy: PID
Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin chairs a meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee on Wednesday. — Photo courtesy: PID

ISLAMABAD: Within first quarter of the new fiscal year, the Economic Coordination Committee (CCI) of the Cabinet on Wednesday approved Rs28 billion supplementary grants to Ministry of Defence and about Rs44bn to Pakistan International Airlines.

Presided over by Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin, the ECC also allowed 70 million cubic feet of imported gas to two Punjab-based fertiliser plants for the upcoming Rabi season and ordered a review of overall requirements to conclude if urea imports would be required.

The Ministry of Defence had come up with demands for two technical supplementary grants worth Rs18bn for Special Security and Rs22bn of additional funds for Pak-Iran Border Fencing. At a pre-ECC meeting, the Ministry of Finance agreed to provide Rs10bn instead of Rs22bn at this stage for border fending.

As such, the ECC took up three demands for additional grants and approved all the three worth Rs28bn for current fiscal year. These included Rs12bn release for recurring cost of Special Security Division-South, Rs6bn for recurring cost of Special Security Division-South and Rs10bn for Fencing along Pak-Iran Border during current fiscal year.

Approves 70mmcfd gas for two fertiliser plants and Rs28bn grant for defence ministry

The ECC also approved about Rs44bn additional financial support to PIA. This included $130 million (about Rs22bn) financial arrangement to meet its immediate liabilities. Simultaneously, the committee also enhanced PIA’s guarantee limit by Rs22bn to raise financing from commercial banks.

The finance ministry said the ECC approved a summary tabled by the Aviation Division for GOP cash support as required by PIAC. The airline has experienced significant dip in revenues and cash flows due to pandemic and unprecedented travel bans and lockdowns imposed by various countries. Moreover, the ECC also approved the enhancement of existing approved guarantee enabling PIAC to overcome its financial challenges.

The ECC also approved a summary of the Ministry of Industries and Production for provision of regasified-Liquefied Natural Gas (RLNG) to Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Ltd (SNGPL) based plants (Agritech and Fatima Fertiliser) in Punjab during Rabi season 2021-22 to meet fertiliser needs. The ECC approved provision of 70 million cubic feet per day of gas (mmcfd) RLNG with the direction to hold a consultative session with the representatives of fertiliser manufacturers to workout overall demand for urea.

The ECC further directed to consider the possibility to import urea, if needed, to maintain buffer stocks.

Ministry of Commerce presented a summary regarding revocation of the conditions of Minimum Export Price (MEP) on export of surgical instruments with the exception of “single-use” surgical instruments. The ECC approved that the necessary amendments be made in Export Policy Order, 2020 to revoke the condition of MEP in order to make our exports competitive in the global market.

Ministry of National Food Security and Research submitted a summary before the forum for provision of wheat to AJ&K, out of Passco stock, for the financial year 2021-22. The ECC approved the provision of 300,000 tonnes of wheat in total to AJ&K at the ratio of 80/20 as mixture of local and imported stock.

Federal Finance Minister, as a Chairman of ECC, stated that the government is firmly committed to stabilising prices of wheat and ensure its smooth supply at affordable prices across the country.

The ECC also approved Rs3.860bn in favour of Revenue Division (FBR) as a bridge financing facility to upgrade IT infrastructure in view of increased frequency and severity of cyber attacks to ensure elimination of risk to taxpayers data.

Published in Dawn, September 16th, 2021

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