The Economic Coordination Committee has approved an increase in the price of subsidized edible oil available at Utility Stores, by Rs 30 per kilogram. In addition to this, the committee also approved the revocation of the Neelum Jhelum surcharge with immediate effect. 

The Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, chaired the meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet on Friday.

The Ministry of Industries and Production presented a summary before the ECC regarding the revision of subsidized prices of essential commodities by the Utility Stores Corporation of Pakistan, in accordance with the earlier directive of ECC dated January 28, 2021. The Secretary, Ministry of Industries and Production presented various proposals to rationalize prices of wheat flour, sugar and ghee in view of continuous fluctuations in international commodity prices. After detailed discussion, the ECC approved the increase in the price of cooking oil from Rs 170 kg to Rs 200 kg, to only partial rationalisation and directed to provide maximum relief to the consumers despite significant price differential between subsidized price offered by the USCs and the prevailing prices in the domestic markets. This is in compliance with the Prime Minister’s Relief Package-2020 to provide basic commodities at affordable rates through a network of Utility Stores across Pakistan.

The ECC also approved another summary by the Ministry of Industries and Production for outstanding payment to Ocean Wide Shipping Services, amounting to USD 0.58 million from Pakistan Steel Mills to fulfill a contractual obligation for transportation of coal during the year 2010.

Secretary, Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication presented a summary regarding taxation issues of the Telecom Sector. The ECC had earlier constituted a sub-committee dated October 20, 2020, under the Chairmanship of the Adviser to the PM Dr. Ishrat Hussain, for due deliberation. The sub-committee presented its recommendations before the ECC. The Committee approved these recommendations as endorsed by FBR.

The ECC considered a summary by the Ministry of Energy (Petroleum Division) regarding tax on payments to the offshore supply contractor to meet the contractual obligation. The ECC established a sub-committee comprising SAPM on Petroleum, Secretary Law Division, Secretary Power Division and FBR with a direction to evaluate the proposal and present workable recommendations before the forum for consideration. Ministry of Energy presented another summary about revocation of Neelum Jhelum (NJ) surcharge @ Rs.0.10 per KWH electricity consumers. The ECC considered and approved the revocation of Neelum Jhelum surcharge (with immediate effect).

Secretary, Ministry of National Food Security and Research placed a summary before ECC regarding a mechanism for disbursement of subsidies in line with the Prime Minister’s Fiscal Package for Agriculture in the backdrop of COVID-19 pandemic. The summary was approved by the ECC for timely disbursements of subsidies to the Provinces by the M/o NFS&R subject to clearance by the Finance Division.

The ECC also considered and approved a summary regarding the Government’s sovereign guarantee for a PSDP project titled National Electronics Complex of Pakistan (NECOP, executed by National Engineering and Scientific Commission.

Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research Syed Fakhar Imam, Federal Minister for Industries and Production Hammad Azhar, Adviser to the PM on Institutional Reforms and Austerity Dr. Ishrat Hussain, SAPM on Revenue Dr. Waqar Masood, SAPM on Power Tabish Gauhar, SAPM on Petroleum Nadeem Babar and Chairman Board of Investment (BOI) Atif Bokhari participated in the meeting.

Hamza Habib is a senior journalist who has previously worked for leading newspapers and TV networks of the country. He mainly writes on the economy and political issues.

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