ISLAMABAD: Minister for Finance and Revenue Shaukat Tarin chairs a meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee of the cabinet on Wednesday.—PPI
ISLAMABAD: Minister for Finance and Revenue Shaukat Tarin chairs a meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee of the cabinet on Wednesday.—PPI

ISLAMABAD: The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the cabinet on Wednesday approved import of 50,000 tonnes of urea from China on an immediate basis subject to clearance from the Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority.

A meeting of the ECC presided over by Minister for Finance and Revenue Shaukat Tarin allowed the import on a government-to-government basis and tasked the Trading Corporation of Pakistan with negotiating the price with a Chinese supplier authorised by the government of China for further import of urea.

The fertiliser manufacturers welcomed the government’s decision to import 50,000 tonnes of urea to overcome its shortage in the country.

The Fertiliser Manufacturers of Pakistan Advisory Council (FMPAC) had suggested to the government to import 100,000 tonnes of urea to build the buffer stock.

“This decision will help end psychological pressure on the farmers regarding the urea shortage,” said FMPAC executive director retired Brig Sher Shah Malik. He said that currently the fertiliser industry was selling around 20,000 tonnes of urea per day and the imported stock of 50,000 tonnes could last only less than three days. He said the urea industry thought that there had to be some buffer stock in the country.

The FMPAC figures show that the year 2021 witnessed the highest-ever urea sale of 6.34 million tonnes in the country as opposed to an average sale of less than 6.1m tonnes over the last five years.

The Pakistan Bureau of Statistics data shows that the area of cultivation has reached its highest level at 24.30 million hectares — an increase of two million hectares over the past two years.

Storage infrastructure

The National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) on Wednesday directed the Ministry of Food Security and Research to formulate a strategy for provision of storage infrastructure for improving supply chain of perishable food items.

A meeting of the NPMC chaired by Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin also discussed the demand and supply of fertiliser in the country and directed the Ministry of Industries and Production to import fertiliser as soon as possible to meet the rising demand and maintain stability in its price.

The NPMC was updated on the price of wheat flour which had marked a continuous decline for the past five weeks. The meeting expressed satisfaction over the availability of sufficient stocks of wheat in the country.

The meeting also discussed the sowing situation of wheat in the country and expressed satisfaction over the progress in all the four provinces.

The NPMC was briefed on the sugar price and its stock position in the country and expressed concern over a slight increase in its prices in various cities. The meeting was also apprised of variations in prices of pulses and a rise in prices of eggs and chicken due to seasonal factor. The NPMC was informed that the price of onion had marked a decrease as compared to the last three years.

The finance minister expressed satisfaction over a decline in prices of sensitive commodities and appreciated the provincial governments for taking administrative measures to reduce the gap between wholesale and retail rates.

Published in Dawn, January 6th, 2022

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