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ECC approves gas loadshedding

December 03, 2008

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ISLAMABAD, Dec 2: The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the cabinet approved on Tuesday a new schedule for load-management of natural gas for winter to overcome a possible shortfall.

The shortfall may exceed 500 million million cubic feet per day (mmcfd) in December and February and 600 mmcfd in January.

A meeting of the ECC, presided over by Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Shaukat Tarin, approved a summary prepared by the petroleum ministry aimed at maintaining uninterrupted supply of gas to domestic consumers, independent power producers and CNG stations for the transport sector.

Under the schedule, gas supply to the cement sector will be suspended from December to February and to the industrial sector it will be reduced by 50 per cent.

While fertiliser companies will carry out their annual maintenance, no gas will be provided to Wapda during the three months.

The schedule was finalised by a committee in consultation with the stakeholders.

The ECC asked the petroleum ministry to ensure uninterrupted supply of gas to domestic consumers. The burden of reduced supply will be shared by the power sector and industry.

On the recommendation of the ministry of water and power, the meeting approved a proposal to extend the tariff provisions of the 2002 power policy and the mechanism developed by Nepra to hydropower projects under the 1995 hydel policy with minimum changes in project agreements.

For increased availability of power, the ECC allowed rental power projects the same tax treatment as applicable to rental power projects under Wapda’s jurisdiction.

The meeting also approved a market intervention price of Rs1465 per 40kg for seed cotton during the 2008-09 season on the basis of current export parity price. The ministries of food and agriculture and commerce have been asked to work out an efficient procurement plan that benefits small farmers and keeps the price stable. The food and agriculture ministry has been asked to make timely announcement of the intervention price.

The ECC allowed procurement of 750,000 tons of additional wheat with better specifications and in a manner that domestic requirements were met satisfactorily and the wheat stock position remained adequate.

The ECC approved a credit guarantee scheme for small banks to help them maintain liquidity through availability of credit facilities from the State Bank. The scheme will be implemented by the SBP which will ensure its effective utilisation and sound operation of the banking system.