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ISLAMABAD: The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet has approved the increase for commercial consumers, and increased meter rent by Rs20 for domestic consumers for both gas companies.

The ECC meeting presided over by the Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue, Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, decided that increase for commercial consumers should not be more than 1/3rd of the GIDC imposed till August 2020.

The ECC approved the request of the Ministry of Energy to allow gas/RLNG supply to industrial sector (exporters of five zero-rated sectors namely textile including jute, carpets, leather, sports and surgical goods).

The weighted average tariff will be charged at Rs930/MMBTU till February 2021.

From March 2021 onwards notified domestic tariff would be charged unless an alternate mechanism is devised and approved by that time.

The meeting was informed that in order to avoid curtailment of gas to these industries, supply of LNG would be made available to them.

From beginning October 2020, gas supplies would be reduced to 50 percent for Saturdays and Sundays to the export sector for two consecutive weekends, and possibly the third weekend, in order to build up sustainable gas pressures in the SSGC’s system.

Once this is done, there will be no curtailment on Sundays.

The ECC decided to rationalise the tariff of the power sector-FCA and quarterly adjustments, which were due for the period from November 2019 to June 2020.

According to the decision, there would have been a price increase in tariff to the tune of Rs1.62/kWh but the forum also decided to add a subsidy to the price for the end consumers that comes to about Rs1.30/kWh, so the net increase that will be passed on to consumers of electricity up to 200 units will only be Rs0.32 (32 paisas).

The ECC also approved implementation of a retrenchment plan on an immediate basis by allocating Rs19,656.213 million to initiate the process, in the light of the report submitted by the PSM in the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

The Ministry of Industries and Production brought a summary to the ECC on the retrenchment plan of the Pakistan Steel Mills aligned with the legal framework of relevant labour laws.

Another summary about the PSM was brought to the ECC, in which the forum was informed that the Supreme Court has directed that an amount of Rs11.680 billion may be deposited with the apex court to pay off the liabilities of the non-litigants who have retired from the PSM till 18th May 2020.

The ECC in an earlier meeting had asked the Ministry of Industries and Production to submit the list of non-litigants and their dues, and the meeting was informed that there are 3,978 retired employees who are non-litigants.

The Ministry of Commerce through a summary requested the ECC to reduce the margin of commission of the Trade Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) on the import of wheat and sugar to 0.75 percent from the existing two percent.

The ECC approved the request of the Ministry of Commerce.

The chair directed that as the matter of availability of wheat was crucial, so there should be an update on the issue as the starter in each meeting of the ECC.

The chair also expressed concern over the different numbers that kept on coming up from different quarters as per the need and availability gap of the commodity, and directed that the Ministry of Food Security, after consultation with all the relevant stakeholders, should inform the public on the matter, with figures on the stock available, and being brought into the country from different government and private sector channels to meet any future demand-supply gap.

The ECC, for the management and maintenance of Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, allowed establishing a Project Management Unit (PMU), with the creation of 126 posts and recurring budget and other costs to make PMU, a self-financing body, under the administrative control of the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB).

The ECC allowed (in principle) the conversion of the National Highways Authority loans into government grants on the presentation of an operational and corporatization plan for the National Highways Authority (NHA).

The Minister for Planning shall oversee the preparation of this plan.

The request of the NHA was approved on the ground that the projects selected by the NHA for execution are not purely on financial viability, and those projects, which are executed in remote areas, have very less revenue generation potential, but these are executed as social development projects.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020