ISLAMABAD: Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) approved the Mobile Device Manufacturing and Electric Vehicles Policy (02-03 wheelers and Heavy Commercial Vehicles [HCVs]), presented by the Ministry of Industries and Production. 

ECC also approved the issuance of offshore Pakistan Rupee (PKR) linked Bonds to the International Finance Corporation (IFC).

Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Sheikh chaired the meeting of the ECC) on Wednesday. After due deliberation, the committee approved the removal of withholding tax of 4% on manufacturing to retailers of locally manufactured phones to incentivize the sector. Moreover, removal of Sales Tax on locally manufactured phones was also approved in principle and modalities would be worked out in consultation with the Finance Division.

The ECC also accorded approval for issuance of offshore Pakistan Rupee (PKR) linked Bonds to the International Finance Corporation (IFC). This will help in the availability of financing to priority sectors, promote private sector investments and bring foreign exchange liquidity in the domestic foreign exchange market in the post-COVID-19 scenario.

The Finance Secretary briefed the forum about the rationing of subsidies (phase-I). A detailed presentation was given by Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Revenue Dr Waqar Masood on Revenue focusing on electricity, food and national savings during the first phase. The chair appreciated the detailed plan for rationing of subsidies, its various components and directed to present a comprehensive summary with concrete proposals suggesting a way forward before ECC.

Priority berthing for wheat and sugar imports was also discussed during the meeting. Minister for Maritime Affairs Ali Haider Zaidi updated the forum about the latest position of wheat vessels and operations of Karachi Port Trust (KPT) and Port Qasim Authority (PQA) accordingly. The finance minister directed that the Logistic Committee of the ECC would be chaired by the Minister for Maritime Affairs to workout SOPs ensuring all stakeholders including private sector are onboard with reference to priority berthing.

Ministry of National Food Security and Research presented a summary for provision of additional quantities of wheat to the Government of AJ&K and Utility Stores Corporation. The chair directed to provide the first load of the additional quantities to both AJ&K and USC on priority as an interim arrangement to ensure smooth supply of wheat across the country. The detailed proposal would be discussed in the next ECC meeting.

ECC approved the new re-lending policy 2020 presented by Economic Affairs Division. The new re-lending policy will reflect the changes in the borrowing cost of the government, take into account variation in the exchange rate and pass on actual rates to the borrower for transparency. Other terms and stipulations, including with respect to recovery of commitment fee as in the policy in vogue, will continue to apply. The Karachi Transformation Plan was postponed to the next ECC meeting.

ECC also approved the following technical supplementary grants: Rs 219.3 million for the operationalization of the newly established Isolation Hospital and Infections Treatment Centre, Islamabad; Rs 305.4 million to pay off Pakistan’s annual contribution to World Health Organization (WHO); Rs.106.7 million to the ICT Administration for various projects; Rs.706.8 million for FATA, temporarily displaced persons, Emergency Recovery Project, NADRA; Rs.278.1 million for Annual Contribution of Pakistan to UNFA, PPD & IPPF-FPAP for FY-2018-19, 2019-20 & 2020-21  and Rs.53.10 million for procurement of medical equipment, machinery and medicines to combat COVID-19.

Minister for Interior Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, Minister for Industries and Production Hammad Azhar, Minister for Economic Affairs Khusro Bakhtiar, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood, Adviser to the PM on Institutional Reforms and Austerity Ishrat Hussain, SAPM on Petroleum Nadeem Babar, SAPM on Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety Dr. Sania Nishtar, SAPM on Energy Tabish Gauhar, Federal Minister for Privatization Muhammad Mian Soomro and Federal Minister for Energy Omar Ayub Khan participated in the meeting. Governor State Bank of Pakistan Dr. Reza Baqir joined the meeting through video link.

Hamza Habib is a senior journalist and former editor of 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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