ECC allows subsidy on five essential items for another month

Published January 1, 2022
Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin chairs a meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) on Friday. — PID
Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin chairs a meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) on Friday. — PID

ISLAMABAD: The Eco­nomic Coordination Commi­ttee (ECC) of the cabinet on Friday approved the continuation of untargeted subsidy on five essential food items at Utility Stores outlets for only one month — January 2022.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the ECC presided over by Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin.

December 31, 2021 was the deadline for the untargeted subsidy on wheat flour, sugar, vegetable ghee, pulses and rice effective from July 1, 2021.

The ECC approved a proposal of the Naya Pakistan Housing and Development Authority (NAPHDA) for revision of customer pricing and mark-up subsidy period under Tier-I of the government scheme for low-cost housing and inclusion of housing finance companies in the scheme for housing finance. The meeting directed that there should be no direct involvement of commercial banks in the NAPHDA projects.

The meeting approved a proposal of the State Bank of Pakistan for incentives for exchange companies against surrender of foreign exchange in the interbank market.

The ECC approved Rs8 billion funds against government’s share for the Sialkot (Sambrial)-Kharian Motorway project under the Public Sector Development Programme — Rs4bn as upfront viability gap funding (VGF) and Rs4bn for overhead costs of the project.

The ECC approved a summary of industries ministry regarding gas rate for operations of SNGPL-based plants — Fatima Fertiliser and Agritech — from October 2021 to January 2022, and to keep the rate at Rs839 per unit (million British thermal unit).

The meeting approved issuance of government’s sovereign guarantee for National Engineering and Scientific Commission’s (NECOP) project worth $5.822 million for batch-IV and $26.154m for batch-V in favour of China Electronics Technology Group, Beijing, to pay back loan in seven years, including two years’ grace time.

The ECC approved a summary of the energy ministry for issuance of sovereign guarantee amounting to Rs24.188bn in favour of Habib Metropolitan Bank Ltd and a syndicate of two banks led by United Bank Limited (UBL) for the remaining tenor of the loan and letter of comfort in favour of lender banks for a new financing agreement with respect to the pipeline infrastructure development project LNG-II.

The ECC approved a summary submitted by the communication ministry for extension in the timeline given to the National Highway Authority (NHA) for preparation of a commercially viable business plan till June 2022 with the same conditions regarding cash development loan as decided by the federal cabinet.

NHA’s debt restructuring will be linked with the outcome of the business plan. The ECC directed the ministry to submit monthly progress report regularly and prepare the business plan well before the deadline.

The Aviation Division submitted a summary about the financial challenges of Roosevelt Hotel (RHC), New York, and request of PIA Investment Limited (PIA-IL) for rerolling of principal amount of $142m along with mark-up payments by National Bank of Pakistan for a further period of two years ending on December 31, 2024.

The meeting was informed that PIA-IL is unable to pay the principal amount of the loan and mark-up payments on behalf of RHC due its closing/suspension. The ECC discussed and approved the proposal with a directive for the Aviation Division to prepare a road map for a permanent solution to the issue.

The ECC approved, in principle, a summary of the economic affairs ministry on global transition from Libor to alternate reference rates with a directive that the reference rates to be adopted in future be submitted to the ECC for approval.

The meeting approved a technical supplementary grant (TSG) worth Rs90m (Chinese grant) for a 1.2MGD reverse Osmosis desalination plant at Gwadar. It also approved a TSG worth Rs14.621m for purchase of spare parts for the helicopter maintained by Sindh Rangers, and another TSG for release of Rs431.880m funds to project implementation letter of HQ Frontier Corps (south), Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Dera Ismail Khan, funded by the Bureau of International Narcotics & Law Enforcement Pakistan.

The ECC approved a TSG worth Rs751.486m in favour of the energy ministry (Power Division).

The meeting advised the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination to review its budget and demand should be met by re-appropriation of funds within the budget for life-saving drugs to the Afghan people.

The ECC considered and approved a summary submitted by the Ministry of Maritime Affairs for grant of relaxation to PNSC’s 19 subsidiary companies from the applicability of the Public Sector Companies (Corporate Governance Rules).

The ECC meeting was attended by Minister for National Food Security Fakhar Imam, Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar, Minister for Industries Khusro Bakhtiar, Minister for Energy Hammad Azhar, Minister for Privatisation Muhammedmian Soomro, Minister for Railways Azam Swati, Minister for Maritime Affairs Ali Zaidi and federal secretaries.

Published in Dawn, January 1st, 2022

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