• Suspends policy curbs for timbers until March 31
• Approves Rs334m for setting up anti-riot unit
ISLAMABAD: The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet on Friday allowed the import of 800,000 tonnes of wheat and 300,000 tonnes of urea fertiliser and suspended the import policy to allow timber and wood imports.
The meeting presided over by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar also approved funds to create specialised anti-riot unit in Frontier Constabulary of 2,000 personnel. The decision coincided with Imran Khan’s long march to Islamabad.
The Ministry of Commerce presented a summary of the suspension of import conditions contained in Import Policy 2022 with regard to the import of timber/wood. It was informed that the All Pakistan Timber Traders Association (APTTA) requested for an extension in the date of implementation of conditions of the import permit. The federal government subsequently suspended the operation of import policy provisions till Aug 31 this year.
The APTTA came back with the same request to continue with the suspension at least till June 30, 2023, to support the wood business sector. The ECC directed the Department of Plant Protection (DPP) of the Ministry of National Food Security & Research to review the conditions for the import of wood and timber and to bring them in conformity with the international best practices so that the import of wood and timber will not be subjected to unnecessary and cumbersome procedures.
However, to address the immediate concerns of the wood/timber industry, the ECC approved the proposal to suspend the date of implementation of IPO 2022 regarding the import of timber and wood till March 31, 2023.
The Ministry of National Food Security and Research (MNFSR) tabled a summary regarding permission for the import of 800,000 tonnes of wheat through the Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP). It was submitted that ECC on May 9 allowed TCP to import 3 million tonnes of wheat and directed to devise import modalities. Modalities were devised and TCP was allowed to import 1 million tonnes of specified milling wheat through an international tendering process.
Later, public wheat stocks were re-verified by the ministry and reported that the actual shortfall would be 2.6m tonnes, instead of 3m tonnes. Therefore, the TCP was allowed to import only 800,000 tonnes each through open tendering as well as through G2G basis out of the remaining 1.6 million tonnes on Sept 6. The federal cabinet, however, did not allow 800,000 tonnes through the private sector, resulting in an anticipated shortfall of this quantity.
Therefore, the ECC allowed TCP to arrange the import of the remaining quantity of 800,000 tonnes through open tendering or through G2G arrangement, before harvesting the new crop. Further ECC directed the concerned ministry to frame and submit a logistic plan within 15 days.
The MNFSR submitted another summary regarding requests from the food departments of Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan for an additional supply of imported wheat from
Pakistan Agricultural Storage & Services Corporation (Passco) stock. It was explained that the Ministry of National Food Security was responsible for a list of allocations of the recipient agencies at the start of each food year and simultaneously local and imported wheat is supplied.
However, provinces have demanded an additional supply of imported wheat from Passco’s stock. The ECC granted permission to provide 100,000 tonnes of imported wheat to Punjab (500,000 tonnes), Sindh (300,000 tonnes) and KP (200,000 tonnes) with full cost and incidentals of Passco. Further, 40,000 tonnes of local and imported wheat at a 50:50 ratio with full cost and incidentals was approved for Balochistan.
The ECC also approved the lowest bid of $373 per tonne for the import of 380,000 tonnes on cost and freight (CFR) bulk at Karachi.
The ECC approved the summary presented by the Ministry of Industries and Production and allowed TCP to go ahead with the lowest bid received at $520 per tonne for the import of 300,000 tonnes of urea fertiliser.
The TCP had floated an international tender in this regard on Oct 19 and opened on Oct 26. Three bidders offered rates. The lowest responsive bid was at $520 per tonne for 300,000 tonnes was approved as a successful bid.
It also approved a technical supplementary grant of Rs333.915 million in favour of Interior Ministry enabling Frontier Constabulary to establish an anti-riot unit.
Published in Dawn, October 29th, 2022