ECC approves hike in prices of essential items

ECC - The News Today - TNT

ISLAMABAD: The prices of essential commodities are set to increase, placing more burden on the common man already under pressure, as the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the cabinet approved an increase in the rates of sugar, wheat flour and ghee at the Utility Stores Corporation (USC) of Pakistan.

Minister for Finance and Revenue Shaukat Tarin chaired Friday the committee meeting, which also okayed the import of 200,000 tons of sugar, a subsidy on DAP fertilizer for cotton and rice crops and procurement of 200,000 cotton bales by the Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP).

The committee approved the revision in prices of three essential commodities: atta (20kg bag) to Rs950, ghee per kilogram to Rs260 and sugar per kilogram to Rs85, respectively owing to an increasing gap between the subsidized prices offered by the USC and the prevailing market prices.

The committee approved revision in prices of three essential commodities to rationalize provision of subsidies by the USC.

The ECC also considered and approved the draft policy directives related to the auction of next generation mobile services (NGMS) in Jammu and Kashmir as submitted by the ministry of information technology and telecommunication before the committee.

This is the first time that the NGMS will be auctioned in Kashmir and it will improve mobile broadband services in the region.

Moreover, ECC also decided that for the payment of the auctioned license fee, the method in-vogue in the earlier auction processes will be followed.

A summary regarding non-cash settlement for power sector re-lent loans against subsidies payable by the government equal to Rs116 billion was also approved.

The ECC was by the power division of book adjustments of Rs97.35bn against liabilities of National Transmission and Dispatch Company (NTDC), Wapda, Chashma plants of Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC), Neelum-Jhelum Hydropower Company (NJHPCL).

After the approval, Energy Minister Hammad Azhar tweeted, “this means that the receivables and payables between government entities have been balanced against each other. This will lead to a reduction of Rs 116 BN in the circular debt stock.”

The ECC approved the Kamyab Pakistan Program (KPP), a flagship program to extend micro-loans to entrepreneurs and farmers. The program will also provide low-cost housing loans.

The KPP also includes an ongoing skill development programme for educational and vocational training.

The program is aimed at extending loans to four million households at the lowest strata. Loans worth Rs500,000, Rs150,000 and Rs200,000 through micro-finance providers for Kamyab Karobar and Kamyab Kissan at 0% mark-up will be provided.

The third component of the scheme is the introduction of a new tier in Naya Pakistan low-cost housing scheme wherein loans of Rs2.7 million and Rs2 million projects will be given at subsidised rates.

During the meeting, the ministry of maritime affairs presented a summary regarding the award of an engineering consultancy service contract for the up-gradation of Port Qasim Authority (PQA) amounting to Rs86.6 million. The ECC approved the execution of the project.

It granted approval to the PQA, Karachi Port Trust and Gwadar Port Authority Boards to transfer their Marine assets to the Pakistan Marine and Shipping Services Company Private Limited, a subsidiary of Pakistan National Shipping Corporation (PNSC).

The maximum rates to be charged by the Pakistan Marine and Shipping Services Company from the public sector ports and harbours will be determined from time to time by the ministry of maritime affairs through a notification in the official gazette.

The ministry of national food security and research presented a summary regarding the procurement of 200,000 cotton bales by the Trading Corporation of Pakistan to promote cotton production and bring stability to the domestic market.

The ECC also approved the formation of a cotton price review committee with a mandate to review market prices and propose intervention on a fortnightly basis.

The ECC considered and approved a summary regarding the elimination of documents attestation fee for goods imported into Pakistan from Kenya as this non-tariff measure increases the cost of business and transaction time.

The ECC approved the amendment in its earlier decision regarding the Prime Minister’s fiscal package for agriculture in the wake of COVID-19 kharif.

The package offered a subsidy on di-ammonium phosphate at Rs1,500/acre for cotton and rice crops, during the Kharif season 2021.

According to the amendment, farmers can now avail a subsidy on any phosphate fertilizer according to their choice.

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