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hafeezISLAMABAD: The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet here on Tuesday approved the grant of Rs6.1 billion to Pakistan Railways for repair of 96 locomotives, levy of GST on Hydro Electric Power and allowed sale of 4.5 lakh tons of wheat to the local millers.

The ECC met here under the chairmanship of Federal Minister for Finance and Economic Affairs, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh also discussed financial arrangements for Iran Pakistan Gas Pipeline Project.

The ECC set up various committees on the items moved by different divisions for deliberations. Ministry of National Food Security and Research proposed a summary regarding sale of one million ton of wheat to the local millers, which is available in surplus quantity.

Managing Director Pakistan Agriculture Storage and Services Corporation (PASSCO) argued that if it retain the surplus wheat with, it would create burden on government in shape of incidental charges.

The ECC also discussed the possibility of export of wheat to Iran in barter trade arrangement. After due deliberations, ECC decided to allow sale of 4.5 lakh tons of wheat to private parties from the total surplus wheat of one million ton.

In this regard, ECC also decided to explore further arrangements of barter trade with Iran, to expedite the process, to plan the restructuring of barter system, and to find out items, which may be procured from Iran in return.

The ECC constituted a committee of Minister for Water and Power, Minister for Food Security and Research, Deputy Chairman Planning Commission and Secretaries from Commerce, Finance and Food Security and Research to look further into the said matters and report to ECC subsequently.

The ECC also approved the loan of Rs6.1 billion to Ministry of Railways for repair of 96 locomotives. The loan will be given in advance to Pakistan Railways Advisory and Consultancy Services Limited, which is a subsidiary of Pakistan Railways whose shares are wholly owned by Government of Pakistan. It formed a committee comprising Minister for Water and Power, DCPC, Secretary Finance and Secretary Water and Power to look into the matter of "delay in payments by the Power Purchasers to IPPs under Power Policy 2002".

The ECC discussed at lengthy the different options proposed by Ministry of Petroleum regarding financial arrangements for Iran-Pakistan Gas Pipeline Project.

Ministry of Petroleum informed ECC that the existing parties of Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) and Habib Bank of Pakistan (HBL) are showing less interest in Iran-Pakistan Gas Pipeline Project, so ECC may go for other options in this regard.

Options for financial arrangements for IP Project proposed by Ministry of Petroleum are: 1) Funding through gas infrastructure development cess, 2) Contract execution with second consortium with Government of China and/or Russia to fund the complete project and 3) Government to government arrangement with Iran.

The ECC discussed the each option in detail and formed a committee comprising Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources, Minister for Water and Power, Governor SBP, Secretaries Economic Affairs Division, Petroleum, Finance and Deputy Chairman Planning Commission.

This committee will work further on each option and report to ECC subsequently. The ECC also approved the proposal to fix price of imported urea at 1600 per 50 kg bag.

The ECC also constituted a committee to look into the implications of the construction of Economic Zones, over Export Processing. It may be recalled here that China Pakistan Economic Zones have already been approved by the ECC.

The Economic Zones are beside the construction of the Pakistan China Economic Zones (CPEZ). The ECC also decided to exempt levy of GST on the fixed charges of the Hydro Electric Power which will lower the prices of the WAPDA problem.


Copyright APP (Associated Press of Pakistan), 2012


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