To address the apprehensions of textile sector over government plan to discontinue gas supply to their captive power plants the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) forms a sub-committee to come up with proposals to resolve this issue

Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh chaired the meeting of ECC of the Cabinet.

According to sources, the Ministry of Commerce conveyed the reservations of textile sector over Power Division plan to discontinue gas supply to domestic and export-oriented industry in February.

A ministry official said that the industry believed that the electricity offered to them from grid per unit is Rs2 to Rs3 expensive compared to electricity produced through captive power plants. “Closure of gas will make the industry uncompetitive in export market as electricity tariff in the region is among the highest,” the official remarked.

He said all the efforts to boost the exports could go in vain if the industry becomes uncompetitive. The ECC decided to include Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Power Tabish Gauhar in the sub-committee for detailed consultation on proposals related to the power sector which fall under the ambit of the Textile Policy. The Textiles and Apparel Policy 2020-25 would be presented before ECC in a couple of weeks.

The Ministry of Industries and Production presented three proposals related to the Utility Stores Corporation (USC) before the ECC. It considered and approved the first proposal regarding continuation of general subsidy on five essential items — sugar, flour, cooking oil and pulses — through the USC from fist January to 30th June 2021 from the funds allocated under Prime Minister’s Relief Package-2020 in the backdrop of COVID-19 pandemic.

Secondly, the ministry proposed to approve re-allocation of Rs 2.332 billion for ERP procurement and IT infrastructure for automation of stock management throughout the network of USCs.

The ECC approved in principle, with a direction to hold further consultation with the Ministry of Information Technology and Ministry of Finance for smooth implementation. Furthermore, it was decided that the USC would present a revised proposal after working out a specific percentage range(s) of differential from market prices for subsidising essential commodities through the Ministry of Industries and Production before next ECC meeting. The percentage range(s) would serve as a benchmark for subsidising the essential commodities through USC, keeping in view, fluctuations in international commodity prices.

The ECC considered and approved another summary by the Power Division regarding Implementation Agreement, Supplemental Agreement and Power Purchase Agreement for 300 MW Cool Power Project at Gawadar.

On the recommendation of the Ministry of Energy (Petroleum Division), ECC approved allocation of 22MMCFD of gas to the SSGCL system from Sujjal-I, Sujawal-X-I and Aqeeq-I wells of Mari Petroleum Company Limited.

National Electricity Policy 2021 was presented before ECC by the Power Division. After detailed discussion, the ECC referred the above policy to Cabinet Committee on Energy (CCOE) for consideration with the advice that the policy may be referred back to ECC (with recommendations) if the subject falls in the domain of the ECC. The committee further directed to take provinces on board during consultative process.

The Petroleum Division presented a summary before ECC to review the Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) and Dealers Margins on Petroleum Products. After due deliberation, the ECC decided that proposed rates for the increase would be considered after a detailed study by Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE). A sub-committee was formed. SAPM on Revenue Dr Waqar Masood will head the committee that includs SAPM on Power Tabish Gauhar, Minister for Planning Asad Umar and SAPM on Petroleum Nadeem Babar as members to evaluate outcome of the PIDE study and present a revised summary before the ECC.

The Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony presented the Zaireen (pilgrims) Management Policy before ECC for consideration. The ECC approved the establishment of Ziarat Directorate Office at Quetta and Taftan at an estimated expenditure of Rs 38.50 million. Moreover, the ECC also considered the establishment of Ziarat Directorate Offices at Mashhad (Iran), Karbala and Baghdad (Iraq) and directed Ministry of Religious Affairs to seek formal consent/approval from the host countries through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

ECC also approved a Technical Supplementary Grant of Rs 42 million in favour of National Programme for Enhancing Command Areas in BARANI Areas (ICT Component) surrendered by the Ministry of National Food Security & Research.

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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