Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue, Mr. Shaukat Tarin, presided over the meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet today.
The ECC approved the import of 200,000 MT of Sugar with immediate effect through TCP and directed to work out arrangements for the remaining 300,000 MT of sugar through the Government-to-Government mode of procurement at the earliest possible to build strategic reserves and ensure a smooth supply of sugar across the country before the arrival of the fresh crop. Similarly, the ECC also approved the corresponding financial arrangement for the import of 200,000 MT of sugar during the meeting.
The ECC approved the summary tabled by the M/o Industries and Production for the import of 200,000 MT of Sugar for maintaining strategic reserves.
The Secretary, M/o Industries and Production, briefed the Committee about previous tenders floated for the purchase of sugar in the international market. He also apprised regarding the cancellation of previous tenders due to volatility in the prices of commodities in the international market, particularly due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
He further apprised that rising transportation costs and petroleum prices have contributed significantly to international price hikes in food commodities.
The ECC considered and approved a request for a Technical Supplementary Grant (TSG) by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) for extending humanitarian assistance to Syria in the form of edible items. The ECC has allowed procurement of edible items through MOFA (Pakistan Mission in Syria), 200 tons each of rice and flour, amounting to approx Rs. 44.24 million.
The Ministry of National Food Security &amp;amp; Research presented a summary before the ECC to waive off all applicable taxes/duties on the import of 12 drones donated by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MARA), China, for controlling desert locusts in Pakistan. The Committee approved the summary for exemption of all applicable duties/taxes in this regard.
In his remarks, the Finance Minister, as a Chairman of ECC, took notice of the price fluctuations in the international market of commodities and directed to constitute a sub-committee comprising of Secretary M/o Industries and Production, Secretary Commerce, Secretary Finance Division, and Secretary Law Division to hold a consultative session and work out modalities for placing tenders in the international market promptly to get a more affordable price for importing food items to save precious foreign exchange reserves of the country.
He also directed to present recommendations for improving the overall estimation process by provinces through forecasting on a scientific basis for commodities where price risk is involved. Proper estimates should be presented for the import of particular food items to fulfill all codal formalities in a timely manner, he stressed.
On the recommendation of the Ministry of National Food Security &amp;amp; Research (NFS&amp;amp;R), the ECC accorded approval to import 400,000 MT of wheat and directed to explore and expedite the option for importing the remaining amount of wheat through a Government-to-Government arrangement.
The ECC emphasized the importance of building strategic reserves in wake of the evolving situation in Afghanistan which may affect the prices in the domestic market.
The ECC considered and approved a Technical Supplementary Grant amounting to approx. Rs. 24,555 million (US $150 million) to NDMA for procurement of vaccine for COVID-19, including transportation and handling charges in order to meet the target of 85 million population to be vaccinated by the end of the year 2021.
Lastly, a Technical Supplementary Grant was approved in favor of M/o National Health Services, Regulations, and Coordination amounting to Rs. 2376.266 million for the Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) for the FY 2021-22 as EPI is a high-priority initiative of the Government that aims to immunize more than seven million children under 1-year of age against ten vaccine-preventable diseases (VPD).
Federal Minister for Privatization, Muhammad Mian Soomro, Federal Minister for Railways, Mr. Azam Khan Swati, Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research, Syed Fakhar Imam, Federal Secretaries, Governor State Bank of Pakistan, Dr. Reza Baqir, Chairman SECP, Mr. Aamir Khan, and other senior officers participated in the meeting.
Source: Pro Pakistani